Van Buren County mayor addresses concerns about new employer

by | November 2, 2017 7:47 am

After the recent announcement of a new $300 million economic development project for Van Buren County, several residents have voiced concerns that resulted in the issuing of a letter from the county mayor’s office.

On Oct. 18, Van Buren County Mayor Greg Wilson announced that Van Buren County would become the home of a new employer who would be investing approximately $300 million in the county and creating reportedly 75 new jobs. The name of the company was announced as Just Be Green Inc. The company will reportedly be constructing an alternative fuel generation facility.

This new facility will be taking solid waste and converting it into diesel, a process that is known as waste gasification. This process is one of the newest ways to deal with solid waste and is reportedly an environmentally friendly solution by generating no emissions.

However, since the announcement of this new economic development project, several residents have raised concerns and have asked questions about this project. On Oct. 24, 2017, Wilson issued a letter addressing these concerns and questions.

According to the mayor’s letter, “There have been a few questions about the Waste to Energy (Just Be Green) coming to Van Buren County. This company normally sells technology for this type of industry, but now they have formed their own company to begin a full operation of turning waste to diesel fuel.

“I cannot answer the technical questions about this, but I do know that they will use 97 percent of solid waste that normally ends up in landfills, and it will provide an economic boom for Van Buren County. I have been asked if this technology is real… Technology is moving at a lightning pace, and I assure that this project is real and is good for Van Buren County. If it was not, I would not be for it.”

The letter further stated that Foster Wheeler Energy Corporation has been contracted to perform the construction of the new facility. The new facility is slated to be open by 2019.

comments » 3

  1. Comment by M Rogers

    November 2, 2017 at 11:19 am

    A gasification plant using municipal solid waste as a feedstock cannot be considered a “fuel generation” facility even though syn-diesel is a product. Because of the energy needed to process/dry the waste these facilities are usually energy negative overall, profit is made by charging disposal fees to the municipalities that provide the waste. This is a very new application of technology which was developed to recycle higher energy waste like separated plastic or shredded tires. There are only a handful of pilot plants worldwide designed for municipal waste, they’re alternatives to incinerators which have much lower atmospheric emissions than traditional incinerators but have similar issues with traffic, onsite garbage/ash storage, etc.

  2. Comment by Ginny Evans

    November 2, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    So, M. Rogers, is it your opinion that this would NOT be an improvement over the current way Van Buren County processes waste? What about the cost? How does that compare? Would this plant be bringing in waste from surrounding towns that would have a negative impact on Van Buren County? Has anyone looked into Foster Wheeler’s reputation where it already has such plants?

  3. Comment by M Rogers

    November 5, 2017 at 10:23 am

    This really isn’t about Van Buren County’s waste, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the volume of garbage they plan to process through this plant.

    Here’s a link to a presentation Foster Wheeler gave about the state of gasification in 2014. http://www.gasification-syngas.org/uploads/eventLibrary/14.3_Foster_Wheeler_Andy_Allen.pdf

    A couple of excerpts (their words not mine)

    • Gasification is expensive to build and operate so struggles to complete
    • Gasification remains the technology of last resort for a number of problematic wastes and currently, in most cases, needs significant incentives/subsidies


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