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September 22nd, 2014:

States: EPA climate regs illegally left out data

Timothy Cama – 08/25/14

The attorneys general from 13 states told the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its proposed rule in June to reduce carbon pollution from power plants broke the law by omitting supporting information.

Led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the officials wrote in a Monday letter that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to include a wide range of data when it proposes certain regulations. That includes the data upon which the rules are based, as well as the methodology and legal interpretations the EPA used.

“These docketing requirements are nondiscretionary,” wrote the attorneys, who represent major coal states including Wyoming, Indiana and Montana. “Finalizing a rule without providing parties with the technical information necessary for meaningful comment renders the final rule unlawful.”

The attorneys go on to say that the climate rule, which was published in two pieces for different kinds of power plants, “repeatedly violated” the data provisions. The agency excluded information from the EPA’s modeling, heat rate data from coal power plants and any technical information to support its rules for modified power plants.

“This is another blatant example of this agency’s disregard for the rule of law,” Morrisey said in a statement. “It is abundantly clear that EPA and the Obama administration will not allow anything to get in the way of enacting these illegal, burdensome regulations on coal-fired power plants.”

The attorneys general asked that the EPA immediately to withdraw the rule and, if the agency wants to go forward it, propose it again with the correct data.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said she is confident that the rule is on solid legal ground. She cited the numerous recent federal court decisions that have upheld EPA air regulations.

Most of the attorneys in the Monday letter are also participating in a lawsuit filed earlier this month that says the EPA overstepped its authority in writing the climate rule.

Waste companies and government guilty of obstructive inertia

Friday, 19 September, 2014

I write in reference to Elvis Au’s letter “Waste already transported by sea [1]”, (August 27).

Gustave Flaubert, the famous French author, wrote that “Le bon Dieu est dans le detail” – God is in the detail. The phrase has also been attributed to the French architect Le Corbusier and the modern American-German architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

A deliberate variation on the phrase is “The Devil is in the detail”, meaning it is easy to come up with a grand overall plan for something, but difficult to justify that plan when all the detailed questions show up.

In the context of waste management, Ségolène Royal, the French minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, recently stated that incineration is an obsolete technology and we should be moving towards a zero-waste society.

French multinationals Veolia Environnement and SITA – a subsidiary of Suez Environnement – are effectively a waste duopoly in Hong Kong. In France, the official waste “valorisation”, or the value creation rate from waste recycling, for these two companies is said to be around 70 per cent. By comparison, in Hong Kong the figure for the same companies is around 0.25 per cent.

Their global slogans translate as “making waste into a resource” and “global but local”. They and Au need to explain why these slogans don’t apply in Hong Kong. Judging by local figures, their slogan should be “do nothing at all”.

Hong Kong is at the bottom of the world table in recycling municipal solid waste, lower than many developing countries, making it the most wasteful city in the world.

Why is this the case, Mr Au? Who is responsible and accountable?

Premier Li Keqiang has forcefully stated that officials who obstruct progress by doing nothing are guilty of a form of corruption. The waste situation here is a prime example of such obstructive inertia.

The detail is revealing. Veolia and SITA on the commercial side, together with the Environmental Protection Department on the government side, are the primary vested financial interests in waste management in Hong Kong.

How much are waste management contracts worth each year, Mr Au? Who is in charge of the consortia favoured for all the proposed waste infrastructure projects in the city? Let everyone guess before you selectively reply.

Serafina Cheung So-hing, secretary, Anesidora Nature and Eco Education Association

dynamco Sep 19th 2014

We cannot have a Zero Waste policy without legislation
We have no source separation of waste legislation
We have no Govt provided collection system for recycled items which are currently voluntarily separated at source
The Govt intends to charge for waste collection without installing the two above measures so your nicely separated recyclables will get charged for & lumped in with the rest of the trash
Govt wants to spend money on ‘Green’ education centres in all districts instead of a big stick legislation
Recyclable items contaminated by HKG’s ultra wet food waste are useless – HKG deliberately ignores the advice of CIWEM’s worldwide policy on the use of the sewage system to handle food waste
Flawed ‘Blueprints’ are all wind no action
We have no method to handle remaining non recyclable construction waste that must be buried- yet Govt was offered a FREE 150,000 tpa Plasma plant that could destroy this , but refused it
HKG local recycling figures are fake & include transit import waste from overseas that passes thru HK port enroute China
All in all a retrograde disaster with Burn ‘n Bury policies
The waste collection companies cited are just using the system to get rich + the system is broken

Since Santa Monica resident Ms Loh is fully aware of California’s 77% recycling rate  and legislation it is ‘strange?’ that no such legislation is forthcoming here

Unforeseen Dioxin Formation in Waste Incineration

Ingrid Söderbergh, September 18, 2014

Dioxins forms faster, at lower temperatures and under other conditions than previously thought. This may affect how we in the future construct sampling equipment, flue gas filtering systems for waste incineration and how to treat waste incineration fly ash. These are some of the conclusions Eva Weidemann draws in her doctoral thesis, which she defends at Umeå University on Friday the 26 of September.

Dioxins is a collective name for a specific group of chlorinated organic molecules where some exhibit hormone disrupting and carcinogenic properties. Dioxins can form in waste incineration, as the flue gases cool down.

“When you incinerate waste, some dioxin formation is inevitable, but with the modern flue gas cleaning systems the emission through the stack is minimized, The dioxins are filtered from the flue gases and end up in the fly ash“, says Eva Weidemann.

That dioxins form is known since the 80’s but in the thesis work Eva Weidemann shows that these toxic substances can form under previously unseen conditions. Amongst other findings she describes formation of dioxins within the flue gas filters of a full scale waste incineration plant.

“The intended function of the filters is to remove the dioxins from the flue gas, but I found that they actually formed instead. The dioxin emissions from the plant still falls below the legislative limits, but that the formation takes place in the first place is bad news. We have identified key parameters for the formation and approximate mechanics. My hope is that our findings can contribute to better filter design in the future,” says Eva Weidemann.

Another problem addressed by the thesis is that dioxins can form within the sampling equipment used during high temperature sampling and Eva Weidemann has investigated how to carry out high temperature dioxin sampling to avoid this occurrence. The solution is more efficient cooling at a critical stage, which then prevents the formation of dioxins.

Eva Weidemann have also looked at how dioxins in waste incineration fly ash is influenced by different of hot and cold treatments to find possible methods to detoxify the ashes. The results are not entirely conclusive, but they provide puzzle pieces that can help.

“If we could find a good detoxification method for the fly ashes, it would be an environmental benefit from a dioxin perspective but also in other aspects such as recycling”, says Eva Weidemann.

Waste incineration is despite the dioxins a good option to utilize the energy in waste that cannot be sorted and recycled. The waste is reduced in weight and volume, and bacteria and odor disappears. In addition, combustion a more climate friendly handling method in comparison to landfilling. The methane gas that forms as the waste decays is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide formed during combustion. The pollution problem attributed to the method in the 80’s and 90’s are today nearly eliminated with the help of advanced filters and purification systems, as well as periodic emission controls.