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Sandy May be Testing Ground for New Waste-to-Energy Facility

Image courtesy Navitus Sustainable Industries
A rendering of the proposed gasification plant in Sandy.

A new company has a proposal to turn Sandy city's household trash into electric energy. If approved, it would be the first facility of its kind in Utah. The Department of Environmental Quality is holding a hearing Thursday evening in Sandy to discuss the proposal.

The idea is take Sandy’s trash, use a thermochemical process to convert it to methane, then burn the gas to generate electricity. Navitus Sustainable Industriesclaims it can do all this while reducing air pollution. Sounds good, right?

“Better than sliced bread,” says Bradley Angel, Executive Director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. But Angel is suspicious of these claims, based on similar facilities around the country that have failed to deliver on such promises. “We have tremendous concern about the proposed Navitus gasification plant. We don’t think it’s clean, we don’t think it’s renewable energy, and frankly, I think the people of Sandy are going to be guinea pigs,” Angel says.

Nicole Martin is the communications director for Sandy city. She says it’s a worthwhile experiment to work towards a zero waste society.

“I believe it is an exciting prospect, for us to be the home to a technology that could possibly turn Sandy into America’s first total recycling city,” Martin says. “With that said, we want to make sure that all the proper vetting is done. We certainly want this to be a clean and safe facility and we’re trusting on the agencies that are tasked with ensuring that’s the case.”

An analysisby the state Division of Air Quality finds that the facility’s emissions would be less than the total emissions generated by transporting waste to a landfill, resulting in a net emissions reduction. The public comment period for the air quality permit runs until February 4th.

A public hearing will be held on January 22, in the Auditorium of the Canyons School District Administration Office, 9150 South 500 West, Sandy, Utah, beginning at 6:00 pm. Written comment will be accepted through Feb. 4. Send to DEQ at 195 N. 1950 West, Salt Lake City, UT, 84116.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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