How many of you know the city of Clinton is considering allowing a company named NOVI to install an anaerobic digester in the Industrial Park? Probably not many, as it seems as this is trying to happen under the cover of darkness for some reason.
As a resident near the Industrial Park, I heard of this by word of mouth, which seems to be the consensus among all my neighbors I have spoken with.
Novi is a company located just outside of Detroit, Michigan, which operates one other anaerobic digester located in Fremont, MI. That is right just one other digester, as it is the only commercial-sized digester in the United States, and if it were such a safe facility why is it 200 miles away? The digester will be a facility in which microorganisms will break down biodegradable materials to produce energy.
Sounds benign enough, right? However, one of the byproducts of this process is methane gas, which in case you’re wondering is combustible. Anaerobic digesters are more prevalent in Europe and a quick internet search will reveal the many problems associated with them, including odor, leaks, and explosions.
According to the Europe Environmental Agency’s presentation to the House of Lords there were seven “catastrophic” failures of digesters in a nine-month period in 2013. The response from the Anaerobic Digestion Biogas Association was “we are still a young industry.”
I don’t believe that we need to be the training ground for a young industry posing a threat to our community. The only other digester managed by Novi receives most of its waste from Gerber, whereas they will have a completely different source of waste here in Sampson County. They will be hauling in spoiled vegetables, meat, and hog waste into the city by our hospital, daycares, and schools.
Now I am familiar with the smell of baby food by Gerber, as I have fed a great deal of it to my daughter, but I do not know what the waste smells like that is being sent to the digester in Michigan. I do, however, know what rotten meat and vegetables and hog waste smells like, especially in late July and early August. I bet you Michigan doesn’t have the hot, humid days we have here. Also I don’t recall hearing about many hurricanes or tornadoes in Michigan either, both of which when combined with a plant that has methane gas as a byproduct could be a disaster.
The plant is only going to provide 13 jobs with an average annual salary of $40,000. Now we all know there will be a large salary to the manager of the plant and nominal salaries to the rest of the employees.
There are too many unknowns associated with this industry to have it settle in the middle of Clinton and pose a risk to our businesses, children, and community. The next City Council meeting to discuss this will be Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. I would hope that you will show up to show your disapproval of this measure.