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Biomass Emissions Place Alachua County Workers at Risk

GRU/GREC Biomass Fugitive Dust and County Employee Health Issues Remain Unresolved
Harold Saive - 6/2/2014

Workers Wear Masks as Personal Protection
Harold Saive

“Public Works employees every day wear protective masks to shield themselves from particulate pollution and odors.” – Letter to the Gainesville Sun

On June 2, 2014 I personally talked with a County employee listed as a complainant on the County’s notarized “Fugitive Dust Affidavit” who confirmed wearing a mask as personal protection on the job at the County Maintenance facility.

The Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) is a 100-MW biomass power facility located in Gainesville, Florida. It's currently owned by Energy Management, Inc., BayCorp Holdings Ltd., and Starwood Energy Inc., as well as by certain principals of Fagen, Inc., the contractor that built the facility.

Critics or the GREC PPA contract contend it continues to be a grandiose vision among a clutch of zealous liberals on the City Commission to be seen as a leader in solving man-made global warming. Even as GRU admitted no immediate need for more base power generation, the mostly Democrat, Gainesville City commission decided to enter into an unnecessary $3 Billion power purchase agreement (PPA).

In addition to questions about the ethics of a financially questionable PPA contract that has raised electric rates to the highest in the State of Florida, the emissions from the incinerator now present a realistic public health hazard.

On May 20th the Alachua County Commission entered into an awkward agreement with GREC (Gainesville Renewable Energy Center) that prevents the County from challenging GREC's requested permits in exchange for their (GREC) providing $96,000 to perform additional 9 months of ambient air monitoring through October, 2014.

Of major public health concern is the ongoing risks to Alachua County employees, nearby residents of Hague, Turkey Creek and other communities who are exposed to particulates of fugitive dust and foul odor associated with the wood chips of biomass fuel.

Although initial noise complaints from 2013 appear to have diminished with the installation of a baffle in the generator stack, the noise remedy has nothing to do with hazardous emissions of particulates that are inhaled by County employees and anyone within a mile or more radius of the incinerator.

The County's monitoring of fugitive dust began at the end of January, but County workers and homeowners of the Turkey Creek and affected communities are breathing a yet-unreported amount of toxic emissions. *** Complete Article

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