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Waste foes meet again

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A group of Stafford County residents are hoping their questions will help kill the proposed waste-to-energy project being discussed by elected officials again this afternoon.

Stafford Citizens for Open Government’s Monday night meeting drew about 50 people to the England Run Library, many of whom said they’d be speaking at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

County supervisors will discuss the project that they’d approved in June, with one supervisor planning to ask to delay the timeline until further research could be done.

“There are simpler, far less risky ways to go about fixing a landfill problem than to go into a technology that’s being implemented by a company that’s never done this before, with a technology that has never been successful,” said resident Bill Johnson about Energy Extraction Partner’s proposal for a $73 million facility at the regional landfill. The process of pyrolysis would convert trash and imported tires into 15 megawatts of electricity and other byproducts.

Johnson wrote an email last week to a county supervisor with concerns over the project. EEP’s senior system engineer, Rod Flores, wrote replies to Johnson’s comments, but never sent it to the local resident. Johnson saw the answers when they were posted on, he said.

Johnson, a 15-year resident of the county and recently retired, questioned why Stafford would want to be known as a manufacturer of tire oil, which is one of the byproducts of the pyrolysis process. Under the current draft lease, about 90 tons of tires would be trucked into the Rappahannock Regional Landfill on Eskimo Hill Road each day to provide for balanced heat units in the process.

“Give me your tires, your garbage, your unwanted trash, so we can breathe free polluted air,” Johnson said, making a parody of “The New Colossus,” the poem by Emma Lazarus mounted on the Statue of Liberty.

“They’re manufacturing this waste oil. That’s what this is designed to do—it’s the only way it can be profitable,” Johnson said.

It was not made clear to the public when Stafford’s Board of Supervisors initially approved the project that tires would be brought to the landfill. The company’s president said they’d be used daily, preventing stockpiles from forming that could catch fire.

Ted Hontz, a former Stafford EDA member who sits on the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce board, questioned the sped-up timeline of the project.

Energy Extraction Partners states on its website that it formed in 2010; president Joe Yavorski said in an email that he started talking to the R–Board, the landfill’s governing body, in April 2012. EEP is a subsidiary of Creative Energy Systems, LLC, a Colorado-based firm that has proposed similar projects. One is moving forward in La Junta, Colo., and needs one last approval.

In Stafford, the R–Board issued a request for proposals in October, and announced EEP as the winner in November.

“For a unique, high-risk project of unknown technology, and they want to get responses in less than a month? Why wold they do that?” asked Hontz.

The request for proposal stated that the R–Board was seeking a firm that would finance, construct, operate and maintain a “municipal solid waste conversion (MSW) program that will address the management of the County’s waste in an environmentally sound, economically viable, and socially acceptable manner. Eligible technologies, include, but are not limited to, pyrolysis, gasification, anaerobic digestion, plasma torch, or [o]ther conversion methods producing a fuel or energy product.”

Hontz, who works at Dahlgren, said he talked to the other two companies that submitted proposals, Recovered Energy Resources Inc. and LEEP Holdings LLC.

County officials had said that one withdrew, and the other was not selected.

“I called up the two guys who didn’t win this bid, and they said, ‘Nobody talked to me. We didn’t enter into negotiations.’” Johnson relayed. He said neither withdrew proposals and have grown interested in the latest news on the project, which at one time looked like a done deal.

But the 120,000-square-foot plant has drawn increased scrutiny by residents in recent weeks.

Fredericksburg City Council must also approve the 20-year lease for EEP to rent 11 acres of landfill property, since it’s jointly owned. The council had been scheduled to vote tonight, but tabled discussion until Aug. 27, after Stafford’s board indicated that the project would be reviewed.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975