Incinerator Permit Appeal Denied, Again
Claremont — Opponents of a shuttered trash-incinerator have suffered a setback in their bid to keep the Claremont plant from re-opening.
The Air Resources Council of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has refused to reconsider an earlier decision to reject an appeal of the operating permit DES issued in 2012 for the Wheelabrator incinerator.
The next step toward the permit becoming permanent is a 45-day review period by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA can issue a ruling during that period or let the time limit elapse, which signals that it has no objections.
Even if the EPA upholds the decision to grant the permit, the 31 people living in Claremont and surrounding towns who sought reconsideration still have another avenue to overturn it, said Michele Roberge, an official with the Air Resources Council — they can file a citizens petition.
The council issued the permit in September 2012, and an appeal was filed about a month later on several grounds, including claims that the data gathered about dioxin emissions from the trash-burning facility and used by DES were inaccurate.
The company closed the Grissom Lane plant last August for what it said were economic reasons. However, the appeal went forward and Wheelabrator continued to argue in support of the five-year operating permit.
The Air Resources Council denied the appeal of the permit decision earlier this year and the appellants asked for reconsideration on March 3, which was denied on Monday. The council did not elaborate on its reasons for the decision.
In a statement Wednesday, Katie Lajoie of Charlestown and Reb MacKenzie of Claremont, who represented the appellants in the appeal, called the decision disappointing.
“The Council decision also makes the stakes higher for the residents of Claremont. Although the incinerator closed in 2013, Wheelabrator still has an air permit that it can use itself or that it can sell to another company,” the statement said. “Either way there is the threat of the incinerator reopening, and this is something that Claremont must make sure does not happen.”
Wheelabrator officials said in a email late Wednesday they had no comment on the ARC’s decision or their plans for the facility.
Patrick O’Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.