By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO January 13, 2006 The newest potential alternative to the Sullivan County Landfill is all about the century-old technology of steam, according to WET Systems Inc., based out of Florida.
The company has not operated a waste disposal system in more than ten years but has been actively pursuing contracts around the world.
WET (Waste Elutriation Technology) is seeking to operate an enclosed facility on Route 17B in the Town of Thompson along the Mongaup River near Gail Drive, east of the Mobil Gas Station.
Company officials gave a presentation at a joint meeting of the Town of Thompson and Village of Monticello boards on Tuesday night at the Ted Stroebele Recreation Center. They were greeted by the boards and the crowd with a mix of tough questions, optimistic enthusiasm and hefty skepticism.
John Horn, the vice president of engineering and design for the company, said the companys steam process would require about 70,000 gallons of water a day.
Vice President John Bertoli said they would need 1,200 tons of waste a day, or more than 400,000 tons a year, to be viable. That is approximately five times as much as the county landfill accepted in 2005. Such an amount of importation translates into 80-100 trucks a day traveling along Route 17B to transport waste, said Bertoli.
The company said it could break down 90 percent of all waste into recyclable material. The leftovers would be dumped at a landfill or hazardous waste site.
WET Systems last operated a plant in Washington Parish, Louisiana for one year in 1993. According to the company, the plant was not profitable because it did not take in enough waste. Laws in Louisiana prohibited the importation of waste from other counties, they said.
However the company maintains their process has similarities to other facilities in Tennessee, Ohio and California.
Eugene Weinstein, a village resident who lives near the landfill and a retired Monticello High School biology teacher, was one of those most critical of the plan.
Weinstein has been at the forefront of the opposition to the expansion of the current landfill. He has used United States Environmental Protection Agency and New York State Department of Health statistics to support his contention that the landfill is a health hazard to local residents.
He was most critical of the scientific explanation surrounding the waste breakdown process. The diagram and pamphlet on the process were short on details.
There is no science here, he said.
He said he would have liked to have heard from a chemical engineer.
This system is not workable, he added.
Weinstein called the proposal pie in the sky and Mickey Mouse.
Town of Thompson Supervisor Anthony Cellini said the high amount of importation the company required would not be suitable for the community. But he said the proposal was the answer to a landfill.
Town of Thompson Councilman William Rieber said the project would need the countys support.
Town Councilwoman Sharon Jankiewicz expressed concerns for the impact the project would have on Route 17B.
Village of Monticello Trustee Scott Schoonmaker questioned the company about whether it would compensate the village if any of its water lines were impacted from the increased truck traffic. He said many of the water mains that run near 17B date back over 50 years.
The company said it would be providing a host fee to the village and town. The company and its financial backers were not receptive to further financial compensation. Some said the 65 jobs it will produce, as well as the host benefits, would be sufficient. Their lawyer said other arrangements could be discussed, though.
Village Trustee Brian Vandermark was clearly the most skeptical of the companys proposal and asked questions and made comments which were highly skeptical of their plans. He pointed out that there were no similar plants that the village and town could visit.
The plant would be built on 5-8 acres of land. The building itself would be 300,000 square feet, have two floors, and rise 35 feet high.