Posted by: James Maloy | January 25, 2010

Gadsden County polluted by world’s largest Biomass Incinerator in 1985

The old saying about learning from history or being destined to repeat it holds true in our community. In 1985, Southern Electric International began construction on what was at the time the world’s largest Wood Fueled Fluidized Bed Biomass Incinerator at the Floradin Mine on Attapulgus Highway in Quincy, Florida that was used produce gas to fuel the large clay dryers for the mine.

The project was constructed using what was  at the time, “state of the art technology”. Throughout the period during 1987 – 1988, the project received numerous Technology Innovation awards (Page 6 from Permit Files pdf) from the Governor of Florida, the U.S. Department of Energy and the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers). By 1990, the plant had been shut down due to continuous violations of air emission standards and making residents physically ill.

The plant continued to operate illegally, knowingly in violation of it’s operating permit (Page 6 Complaint Files pdf)  – verified by inspection from the Department of Environmental Regulation.

After suffering and fighting with the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation and Southern Electric International for several years, the residents of Gadsden County had finally rid themselves of this polluting industrial behemoth.

In a letter dated January 15, 1985 to the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, (Page 67-68 of the Permit Files pdf) Mary Wolter Glass, Vice President for Alternate Gas, Inc., the developer of the Biomass Incinerator assured the DER that due to the technology being used, carbon monoxide, Nitrogen Oxides and Sulfur Dioxide were not expected to occur. She stated that emissions of Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Oxides were small enough to be considered negligible, and Sulfur Dioxide can be rated as zero.

Residents began to complain of a blue haze in the air, acrid smelling stench in the air that smelled like creosote, sticky black soot all over their property and homes increased carbon monoxide levels were making residents physically ill – suffering from headaches, nausea and sore throats (Page 6 Complaint Files pdf). A 1987 report produced by the Sierra Club listed Quincy, Florida as having the ninth worst acid rain samples in the nation according to a letter to the editor to the Gadsden County Times by Quincy, Florida resident Mary Howard Edwards (Page 39 of Complaint Files pdf)

Fast forward to 2009 –

ADAGE and the City of Gretna announce plans to build a Biomass Incinerator in Gretna, Florida in close proximity to Gretna Elementary school, residential neighborhoods and a women’s prison. ADAGE has no track record of ever constructing a Biomass Incinerator anywhere in the United States. The model that they point to as to be the closest existing facility in Lockerbie, Scotland was built by another corporation (E.ON). ADAGE HAS NO WORKING EXAMPLES OF THEIR PROPOSED BIOMASS INCINERATORS. We are supposed to believe that everything is going to be fine, just like it was back in 1985, because it all looks so good on paper!

There are hundreds of pages of documentation from the 1985 BioMess available below, including letters written by residents, newspaper articles, Air permit files, Emission Compliance files, punitive actions against Southern Electric by the DER, etc.

Download the historical documentation of how the residents of Quincy, Florida suffered from Biomass Incineration below:

Complaint Files

Compliance Files

Enforcement Files

Permit Files


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