On behalf of Hennepin County, Covanta Energy is proposing that the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) be allowed to operate at capacity, increasing the amount of electricity and steam produced at the facility. This would increase the actual amount of waste processed at HERC by 40,000 tons per year.
Hennepin County has submitted an application to modify the operating permit for HERC together with an air emissions modeling report to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Parallel to the MPCA's review of the permit modification request, the MPCA intends to conduct an environmental review in the form of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). Over the past two years, the county has worked with the MPCA to provide information for the EAW, permit modification and air emission modeling. The air dispersion modeling that has been conducted for the permit modification application, as well as the Human Health Risk Assessment that is being prepared for the MPCA to incorporate into its EAW, are of the same depth and scope as they would have been if prepared for an Environmental Impact Statement.
The permit modification application and all requested data have been submitted to the MPCA. After the MPCA has completed the air emissions modeling and issues an EAW, the environmental review process will begin. The agency will issue an announcement in the EQB Monitor when the EAW is complete and schedule a public comment period of at least 30 days, including at least one public meeting. The MPCA will respond to comments.
The MPCA project manager then completes a document called the Findings of Fact, recommending to the MPCA commissioner whether or not to require an EIS. The MPCA Citizens' Board makes the final decision about the EAW and whether an EIS is warranted.
See the MPCA's EAW factsheet for more information about this process.
The documents related to this application are posted on the MPCA website. These documents are posted for preliminary review and are subject to change by the MPCA.
The additional waste that would be processed at HERC is a small fraction of all the waste generated in the county - 40,000 tons of waste represents less than 3 percent of the total amount of waste generated in the county. This is waste from homes and businesses that have already separated out recyclables. Processing additional waste would reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. In 2011, 360,000 tons of garbage generated in Hennepin County was disposed of in landfills.
Processing waste at HERC is just one component of the county’s integrated solid waste management system. The county’s top priority is to help residents and businesses reduce, reuse and recycle even more than they already do. Strategies that the county will implement to meet our new recycling goals are outlined in the recently updated Solid Waste Management Master Plan.
The county has also identified programs that could be implemented to offset air emissions from processing additional waste.
The proposal will allow the county to:
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