Four times this summer, an electronic billboard on Route 9 has warned me of an “air quality alert” and asked me to limit the use of my car.
Gasoline and diesel engines may be the major source of air pollution in Dutchess County.
Another source: the garbage-burning incinerator (“waste-to-energy” facility) on the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie near IBM, which started operating in the late 1980s. In 2016 the facility processed 150,425 tons of Dutchess County solid waste, generating 37,507 MWhs of electricity and recovering 6,382 tons of ferrous metals for recycling. The process also created ash residue — 53,155 tons in 2016 — that is used as landfill daily cover. Assuming the report on the county website mentioned everything, we’re left with about 91,000 tons of stuff. Although it has pollution controls, fumes created by burning that garbage went somewhere else — into the air we breathe.
Emissions from solid-waste burning typically include carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, poisonous oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxin, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrogen cyanide, cadmium, lead, chromium and formaldehyde.
Similar deadly emissions also come from two petroleum-fired electric generating plants directly across the Hudson from Wappinger. Even more will come from the soon-to-be-operational Competitive Power Ventures methane-powered electric plant in Middletown, and in a few years from the Cricket Valley methane-powered plant in Dover Plains.
Enjoy your cheap gas and fossil-fuel generated electricity, folks; just don’t breathe deeply.
Charles Davenport, Wappingers Falls