FL county will vaporize garbage

Plasma arc technology touted as solution for landfills. It turns garbage into gas for turbine power and slag for roads.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

How's this for government technology? Take a landfill full of trash, vaporize it into gas and rocks, use the gas to power energy-creating turbines and harden the rock-like material into slag for road and construction projects.

That's all in the works for St. Lucie County, FL, as officials plan to build a $425 million plasma arc facility, reports the Associated Press.

“We didn’t want to do it like everybody else,” said Leo Cordeiro, the county’s solid waste director. “We knew there were better ways.”

No emissions are released during the closed-loop gasification, [plant fabricator] Geoplasma says. The only emissions will come from the synthetic gas-powered turbines that create electricity. Even that will be cleaner than burning coal or natural gas, experts say.

But critics say there are environmental problems.

The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives' Monica Wilson said there aren’t enough studies to prove the company’s claims that emissions will likely be less than from a standard natural-gas power plant.

She also said other companies have tried to produce such results and failed. She cited two similar plants run by different companies in Australia and Germany that closed after failing to meet emission standards.

“I think this is the time for the residents of this county to start asking some tough questions,” Wilson said.

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