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Proposed hazardous waste plant meets opposition
Anchorage Daily News


September 04, 2007
Tuesday AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Talk of building Alaska's first hazardous waste treatment plant in Anchorage has riled the man who lives next door and has a local lawmaker saying it would be dangerously close to a soup kitchen, homeless shelter and RV park.

The company that hopes to run the facility counters that the land it bought is in an industrial area and the plant it wants to build is safe, clean and necessary.

Pacific Environmental Corp. plans a 6,000-square-foot building on a sloping, vacant lot ringed with alder brush. Penco officials say the waste they'd treat would be things like paint and oil, antifreeze and brake fluid -- but not scarier stuff such as cyanide or chemical weapons.

At the heart of the plant would be a kind of pressure cooker that uses heated and pressurized water to bust organic waste apart at a molecular level until it's no longer hazardous, according to the manufacturer. This device is already built, manufactured for use in Alaska by the same defense contractor that makes the military's Predator spy planes.

The Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens chaired at the time, included $5 million for the project in the 2006 and 2007 defense appropriations bills.

The plant would be the first of its kind, and the Air Force would study the reliability of the process and how much it costs to run and maintain in hopes of using similar plants on military bases around the country, according to Penco.

Test it somewhere else, says Ron Alleva, who lives within spitting distance of the proposed plant. He said the plant would be an accident waiting to happen in the middle of a busy neighborhood.

Carl Overpeck, an environmental scientist with Penco, would oversee the hazardous waste treatment, and said the company won't bring in waste to treat from out of state, and is no longer considering treatment of pesticides and herbicides at the plant because people are worried about those chemicals.

Public hearings on the proposal will be held this week.


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Ketchikan, Alaska