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Letter; There is no perfect 'green' solution for garbage

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To the Editor:

No free environmental lunch before cheering for the city-owned-and-operated waste incinerator (currently operating at greater than $400,000 per year loss).

Consider several factors.

First, a perfect "green" solution for any environmental problem does not exist. That notion is largely marketing or "feel good" hype that serves to sell a product, service or political position.

Second, the Red Wing incinerator produces air pollution (greenhouse gases and fly ash) and solid hazardous waste ash, all by-products of combustion. Likely, elements in that ash include arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, nickel, lead, tin, selenium, vanadium, and zinc.

This ash requires secondary hazardous waste disposal in an expensive landfill.

Additionally, the toxicity and carcinogenicity of these elements requires careful exposure considerations for both the community and city employees.

Third, since day one man has consumed resources and produced waste. Each control method or attempt to minimize consumption and waste generation has pluses and minuses.

The best solution must balance many factors including good engineering science, best management practices, sound economics and reasonable regulations that promote a viable healthful solution for our community ... not a political or "outraged" activist position. Keeping a losing economic solution in place for "feel good" reasons does not pass any form of analysis.

Hence, when comparing to landfill disposal, there is no free environmental lunch especially subsidizing the outdated incinerator.

Finally, "reasoned" natural resource conservation, waste minimization, and resource recycling are all laudable goals. We all should be working together as a community to set and reach these goals in an informed, cooperative manner.

Unfortunately, working together doesn't seem to be the norm lately in Red Wing, as vocal community "outrage" activists and one-sided political steamrolling for the status quo often prevails. Whoever shouts the loudest gets the city spotlight and council actions.

Bob Spielman

Red Wing

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