Ramble On

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Open Letter to My Page County Neighbors re: Fibrowatt

Here's an excerpt of a message I sent to local business owners yesterday.  While this focuses on the retail, hospitality, and tourism industry in the County, farmers can also expect impacts from the proposed plant. 
...As you probably have read in the Page News and Courier, a company called Fibrowatt is making a presentation to the Board of Supervisors in Luray next week on March 2. Fibrowatt builds power plants that burn poultry farm waste to produce electricity – and they proposing to build a plant at Project Clover. Now, the plant will bring some jobs with it to the County, which is generally a good thing, but it will also have a significant impact on tourism here, and your retail business, in two ways.

First, the easy, visible one: the plant Fibrowatt built in Minnesota has a 300-foot smokestack (for comparison, the smokestack at the old tannery in Luray is 60 feet tall). A 300-foot smokestack in the center of the Valley will be visible for more than five miles. Tourists at the Luray Caverns parking lot will see it. Families enjoying the Hawksbill Pool in Stanley will see it. Hikers on the AT in Shenandoah National Park will see it from points south of Big Meadows all the way to Compton Peak – about four hiking days! And the bike riders in our popular bike races will see this smoke stack for just about their entire route.

The second one, which is not as visible and is probably more of a concern: among the emissions that will come from that smokestack are materials such as hydrochloric acid, nitrous oxide, and sulphur dioxide. Some of these are merely components of acid rain, but others can have pretty serious health effects. The prevailing wind pattern in the area blows to the northeast or to the southwest – these emissions will blow directly onto Luray or Stanley proper from the proposed location at Project Clover. The plant will produce much less of these materials than a coal plant, but how much of this kind of stuff is okay?

Page County’s Economic Development Administration is going to argue that this project will bring much needed jobs to the county, and that is important in today’s economy. But if the project is approved, it seems a pretty sure bet that the tourism, hospitality, and retail industries here in the county will suffer – and that’s your business and livelihood that we’re talking about.

Okay, I do have one more thing to mention. To haul the poultry waste, which will come from as far away as West Virginia, Culpeper, and Waynesboro, an additional 80 trucks a day will have to drive on Business 340 through Stanley and Luray…that’s up to 12 trucks an hour!

I worry that the promise of a few new jobs will lead to an easy approval by the Board of Supervisors, even though it seems clear that the plant will have a devastating impact on tourism here…so the Supervisors need to hear from you about your opinion of a plant like this. I did a lot of research on the topic before coming to my conclusions on the plant, and you can take a look here: http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/search/label/Fibrowatt if you’d like more information to help you make up your mind.

However you feel about the potential for a power plant like this (and its associated 300-foot smokestack) in Page County, please get in touch with your District Supervisor and let them know. A list of the Supervisors and their contact information is at http://pagecounty.virginia.gov/files/agendas-minutes/board%20of%20supervisors.pdf

Thanks for your attention. Here’s to a prosperous 2010 in Page County.

Best regards,
“Cabin Jim” Jim Turner
Hawksbill Cabin blogger


Lawrence Emerson said...

What would Dwight Sours, who died when a tractor-trailer loaded with out-of-county trash crushed his vehicle on the Massanutten Mountain in 2003, say to his fellow Page County citizens about this application?

What have Page's citizens and their leaders learned from:

- The landfill's promise of financial salvation?

- The supervisors' comedic, wasteful, behind-closed-doors efforts to find new office space, rather than investing the money to renovate and expand -- or even properly maintain -- what they have?

- The "we know better than you" approach to promising millions for Project Clover, again behind closed doors rather than working with partners on land that already has utility service?

- Electing and trusting a sheriff who robbed, cheated and lied for years?

- Expecting a miracle to lift us up?

- Failing to demand accountability from government?

Anonymous said...

Great writing. You forgot to mention the power lines that will have to run over the valley and ruin the views. I am so against this. If I were in town I would attend the meetings and make loud noises against it. Thanks for writing and researching.
Yours truly- Elaine 'HurrayforLuray'

J.R. said...

Anyone who supports this plant has no clue why people live in Page County. A few hundred temporary jobs mean nothing compared to plummenting property values once that plant starts burning chickens--t. This plant will ruin the character of the county, spoil Shenandoah National Park, and fail to make a significant dent in unemployment.