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Clearing The Air

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Board of Health’s consultant issues positive findings on air quality related to WIN Waste Innovations Saugus Plant

   The Board of Health’s longtime technical consultant determined in a recently-issued report that WIN Waste Innovation operations in Saugus comply with air quality guidelines and are not having an adverse impact on the environment.

   “The maximum predicted air toxics concentrations were predicted to be safely in compliance with the air quality guidelines,”  Tech  Environmental concludes in its annual air monitoring report for the trash-to-energy facility.

   “The results demonstrate that even under the worst-case meteorological conditions, the emissions from the WS facility will not cause adverse effects on air quality,” the report said..

   “In the course of the monitoring program for calendar year 2022, all evidence suggests that the facility was in compliance with its permitted conditions,” it continued.

   Tech Environmental noted that WIN Waste did experience its share of deviations or operational challenges.

   “However, the WIN Waste Innovations team has consistently reported all deviations to the MassDEP, the Town Board of Health and Tech, filed the required reporting documentation, taken targeted mitigation measures to address operational deficiencies and addressed staffing roles through incident reviews in order to improve future performance results,” the report noted.

   “In addition, WS hired a well respected, professional stack testing firm to conduct the required emissions testing.    WS has been diligent in reporting any concerns to the MassDEP, the Saugus BOH, and Tech, so that concerned parties can obtain information in a timely manner.”

   WIN Waste Innovations’ Vice President of Environmental Compliance Jim Connolly welcomed the report paid for by the town “a pretty strong validation of what we do.”

   “The report confirms that our substantial efforts to operate in compliance with regulations and permits and to be protective of public health and the environment are successful,” Connolly told The Saugus Advocate this week.

   “I think that this report should bring comfort to the Board of Health and to our neighbors,” Connolly said.

   Environmental critics and opponents of the trash-to-energy plant on Route 107 in Saugus have expressed concerns over many years that the plant’s operations have contributed to air pollution while jeopardizing public health.

   “But this report seems to debunk all of that,” Board of Selectmen Chair Anthony Cogliano said after reviewing a summary of the report.

   “I think it confirms what I’ve said all along, that they (WIN Waste) have a path to proceed. And my plan puts Saugus in the driver’s seat,” he said.

   Cogliano said he hoped the report would prompt a return to discussions with WIn Waste on the Host Community Agreement (HCA).

   “I hope we can get the Host Community Agreement back on the agenda again at next month’s meeting,” Cogliano said.

   “WIN wants to modify the proposal, we’ll take another look and hopefully get this moving in the right direction so we can get an agreement for the town,” he said.

   Cogliano said he thought the Tech Environmental report would bolster efforts for expansion of the ash landfill – a move he supports in return for an HCA.

   The 53-page Tech Environmental report is the latest in a Board of Health program that includes annual air quality monitoring reviews by the company.

   This monitoring program began  in 2011 as a  result  of  a  settlement  between  the Attorney General’s office and the WIN  Waste  Innovations Saugus  facility, according to the report.

   “Since July 2011, Tech has worked for the town as an independent third-party reviewer,” it noted.

   “Over the past eleven (11) years, Tech has visited WS extensively, conducted file reviews at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), and reviewed reports in order to investigate and report on facility compliance.  Tech’s review is particularly related to air quality concerns, the landfill ash and cover material and the impact of facility emissions upon public health, since we understand that these are areas of great concern for the town.”

Among the highlights of the Tech Environmental report:

  • Recent inspections of the ash landfill handling capability at WIN by the MassDEP and Tech have found that the area is well maintained and well-sealed and that the ash is not being released into the atmosphere. WIN has continued on a series of improvement projects, designed to reduce the environmental impact of the facility and allay any fears of people in the community.
  • WIN has been diligent in reporting any concerns to the MassDEP:, the Saugus Board of Health and Tech, so the concerned parties can obtain information in a timely manner.
  • Inspections reveal the ash landfill was being properly operated and maintained and that the ash being disposed of in the landfill had an operational cover.
  • The facility was in compliance with emissions limits for NOx and that the operating parameters were also in compliance.

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