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[GreenYes] Re: Plasma in Panama... sounds like a bad movie

As Eric knows, I work a lot on waste/recycling issues in Latin America & the
Caribbean (wrote a book on it, as a matter of fact), and over the last 3-4
years have seen several techs cum marketers (that's the nice term for many
of them!) show up in Caribbean and Central American capitals with this
plasma technology, slick presentations and promises of getting rid of all
the landfilled waste (as if many real landfills -- vs. glorified dumps --
even existed in many of these countries) -- even HAZARDOUS waste (yes, I've
actually heard that claim with my own ears) "for free" and providing cheap
electric power, as well as "cheap" and "chemically inert" road-building and
construction materials, all "at no cost" to the local government and
"absolutely no pollution."

Local politicians inevitably get super-excited, thinking they'll solve their
solid waste problem, solve their power generation problem, get useful
byproducts, have to spend nothing or next-to-nothing and they'll not harm
the environment.

Then people like me start asking the tech proponents the hard questions
(since I was raised to believe that if it sounds too good to be true,
chances are that it is). Oh, what environment authority of which major
developed nation has approved this technology for full operational scale?
Can we see the EIA? What kind of monitoring/emissions controls does EPA (or
its equivalent) require of you? What city/county in which country is already
running this successfully, and who should we contact there for data about
costs, emissions, and chemical test results for the end- and by-products?
Are you saying that this process totally removes all traces of heavy metals,
PCBs, furans, etc without having to pre-sort the wastes? If pre-sort is
necessary, who do you expect to do that and at what cost and to what specs?
Etc etc

Funny thing -- usually after a battery of such questions, most of these guys
quickly fade away.

FYI -- in each question, I also checked on the "company" making the
presentation, and found most had slick promotional materials but little
other information, and usually very little corporate history in the usual
places of record...

I never could figure out the economics of the tech. How could you make a
solid ROI if the government wasn't subsidizing you, if you were not paid to
take the trash, and you consumed at least 1/3 the power generated (given
that we're talking plasma tech, I'm also a bit suspicious of the cited
energy needs for the process)?

Maybe the tech is for real, and maybe it can do some percentage of what its
proponents claim. But I remain skeptical. If it was so good, so cheap, with
so many clear side benefits (generating power, neutralizing toxics, etc),
then I have to think it'd already be spreading like wildfire in Europe,
North America and Japan. Since it's not, I figure there's part(s) of the
story we're not being told...


Sr. Keith Edward Ripley

Temas Actuales LLC

telefono: 703-731-7108

e-mail: keith.ripley@no.address


<> El Equipo Verde

Autor del libro "Solid Wastes and Recycling Policy in Latin America & the


Noticias ambientales de América Latina y el Caribe:

Las leyes/los reglamentos ambientales de todo America Latina y el Caribe:

Perspectivas sobre la evolucion de politica sobre el medio ambiente, salud
publica y defensa del consumidor en America Latina y el Caribe:

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From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf
Of Eric Lombardi
Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 11:17 AM
To: GreenYes@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] Plasma in Panama... sounds like a bad movie

The ZW movement in the US has always paid attention to the ?good news? from
around the world, but what about the bad news? We love how the EU is
forging ahead and cutting a path through the forest with EPR and the
prohibition on landfilling biowaste. But there is also some serious bad
news abroad that we should be speaking up about. This little blurb to me
just as easily could have added a few sentences to the bottom ? which I did
just for fun ?


Startech Environmental Corp. (Wilton, CT) announced that its exclusive
Panamanian distributor Sicmar International Panama S. A. has signed a
contract with the city of Las Tablas under which Sicmar has secured the land
and waste volumes required for the construction and operation of a Startech
Plasma Waste Converter (PWC) facility. The new plant will be designed to
process 200 tons of municipal solid waste per day and will be the first of
five to ten such facilities planned for operation in Panama. Commissioning
for the Las Tablas facility is tentatively scheduled for early 2008. The
deal has been financed by the World Bank and guarantees an annual put-or-pay
fee to the mayor of Las Tablas of $200,000 per year. The Panamanian
corporation, Sicmar, owned by the President of Panama, has announced plans
to expand this new sanitary incinerator throughout Central America as a way
to shut down the open dumps in the region. The project will create 10 jobs
compared to the hundreds of jobs that a Zero Waste public policy would have
created, according to the recently deceased head of the national
environmental lawyers guild, La Vita.

The world is still looking at waste as something to get rid of. We need to
make it something that you want to embrace.


Eric Lombardi

Executive Director/CEO

Eco-Cycle Inc

Boulder, CO. USA


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