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Old 07-20-2010, 09:26 PM
 
3,562 posts, read 4,392,735 times
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Not long ago, a friend of mine asked when was I planning to return to live permanently in Puerto Rico. Although I have pondered this questions many times over, it was difficult to give him a simple and direct answer. The answer obviously depends on a gamut of factors. Yet, there is this one particular factor/conclusion which, up to that point, I had not shared with anyone.

I told my friend about the several reasons why I might not ever again live permanently in Puerto Rico. Then I shared a conclusion that I have come to over the course of several years. I am convinced that life in Puerto Rico is completely unsustainable in its current form.


There are several reasons why I believe this. To name a few, suffice it to say that a 100 by 35 mile island can realistically accommodate the housing, waste management, education, transportation, medical needs, etcetera of only so many people. With a population close to 4 million, there are over 1100 persons per square mile. This makes Puerto Rico one of the most densely populated places on earth.


One would assume that government officials are vigilant, pro-active and are looking for solutions to solve current and impending crises which naturally come as a result of high population densities. When it comes to waste management, Puerto Rico’s past and present government officials have done absolutely nothing-nada-zero about this critical dilemma. Within the next ten years, all of Puerto Rico’s landfills will be permanently closed leaving the island with nowhere to dispose of its 11,000 tons of garbage generated each day (please see the following link
http://cohemis.uprm.edu/forods/pdf/pres_ads.pdf).

I’ve been involved in, and have stayed informed of this issue since 1988. That was the year I first heard about Waste-to-Energy (WTE) with regards to Puerto Rico. Without fail, each government administration since then has demonstrated no interest or urgency regarding this matter. From an outside perspective, it seems that because there is little political gain from this issue no one wants to “waste” their time on it. In addition, groups of well meaning yet uninformed people have voiced opposition to WTE each time the cause is raised. The result: Nothing has been done to remedy Puerto Rico’s dependence on landfills.


There is a strong possibility that WTE will be mentioned before the end of Fortuño’s first term. For anyone who has made the time to read this post entirely, I urge you to look closely at the seriousness of this issue. If you live on the island, please consider how this will affect your quality of life within the next ten years. Please contact your local political figures about this critical issue which has been ignored for far too long.


Please feel free to ask any questions relevant to this post. I will do my best to provide an answer.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:35 PM
 
1,591 posts, read 3,551,196 times
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How amazing they haven't been proactive on solving such a serious problem! So, where will they dump their trash when the landfills close? The sea? Sounds like a perfect story for "60 Minutes" to me.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:40 PM
 
Location: Fort Wayne/Las Vegas/Summit-Argo
245 posts, read 585,806 times
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People in the Lower 48,Alaska and Hawaii are all experiencing the same or similar issues,OP.There's no national consensus as to what's going to be done w/ landfills. So we just play the waiting game.

Looks like Puerto Rico is running out time to wait sooner than most places.
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Old 07-20-2010, 09:54 PM
 
3,562 posts, read 4,392,735 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banevader View Post
People in the Lower 48,Alaska and Hawaii are all experiencing the same or similar issues,OP.There's no national consensus as to what's going to be done w/ landfills. So we just play the waiting game.

Looks like Puerto Rico is running out time to wait sooner than most places.
I agree with you regarding Hawaii given that it's an island with similar characteristics as Puerto Rico. The same cannot be said about Alaska and most lower 48 states. Most of the large states have ample room to excavate new landfills and do so. Take for example Los Angeles county California which is home of the largest active landfill in the USA. The same is scheduled to close within the next 6 years. As a result, the county purchased an abandoned mine out in the desert which is being converted into a sanitary landfill. This new landfill will afford the county 100 years of waste interment capacity.

Such is not the case in places like New Hampshire and Vermont. As a result, their percentage of WTE reliance is higher than national averages.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Summerville
7,934 posts, read 17,323,940 times
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WTE is a good idea if they can get the emmisions down on it so that it doesn't polute so much....

At that point I am not sure if it is economical enough to use?
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Dorado, PR
238 posts, read 1,071,221 times
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Most places in the US are unsustainable because of such high oil dependence.

And it is a scientific fact that PR is unsustainable, so nothing new here.

And this is the second time I write this on this forum. WTE has already been announced. Strong opposition has ensued because they want to build it as a PPP. As other WTE PPP's have demonstrated, the private company needs a certain amount of trash to earn money. If PR wants to lower the amount of garbage that goes to waste (not recycled), this is in direct conflict with what two government agencies want to accomplish.

But as you said, all the government does is talktalk never accomplish.

Of course, if some government would have the courage to fight sprawl, then life would be much easier. Sprawl is not sustainable and in PR it is killing cities from the outside. It is making government bigger, and it is making the government spend more on mantaining infrastructure. Oh, how I liked it when life was simple, and all you had to do to get around San Juan was ride the streetcar.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:55 AM
 
Location: Dorado, PR
238 posts, read 1,071,221 times
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Another problem I didn't mention. The local Enviornmental Quality Board, a state agency that has the power to override the EPA. WAHTHEFUYCK

This is why even though the Vega Baja Landfill is supposed to be shut down, the mayor goes against the EPA's orders and requests a six-month extension because he wants a private business to run it and keep it going for periods of 6-month extensions.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:18 AM
 
3,562 posts, read 4,392,735 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OleTomCat View Post
WTE is a good idea if they can get the emmisions down on it so that it doesn't polute so much....

At that point I am not sure if it is economical enough to use?
Example. . .The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts owns and operates a WTE facility in the city of Commerce, just 10 miles east from downtown Los Angeles. To my understanding, the Los Angeles basin has the strictest air pollution restrictions in the USA. This plant has been in operation for more than 20 years.

Mind you, the Commerce facility is of the mass-burn type meaning that it cannot does not have the necessary equipment to harvest recyclables up front prior to combustion in the furnace. All the trash (fuel) is fed into the furnace in its raw unprocessed form.

Processing the trash for recyclables and non-combustible material makes for a much cleaner burning fuel thus resulting in lower emissions. Furthermore, ferrous, non-ferrous and other recyclables can be sold and profited from.
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Old 07-21-2010, 09:46 AM
 
3,562 posts, read 4,392,735 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davsot View Post
Most places in the US are unsustainable because of such high oil dependence.

And it is a scientific fact that PR is unsustainable, so nothing new here.

And this is the second time I write this on this forum. WTE has already been announced. Strong opposition has ensued because they want to build it as a PPP. As other WTE PPP's have demonstrated, the private company needs a certain amount of trash to earn money. If PR wants to lower the amount of garbage that goes to waste (not recycled), this is in direct conflict with what two government agencies want to accomplish.

But as you said, all the government does is talktalk never accomplish.

Of course, if some government would have the courage to fight sprawl, then life would be much easier. Sprawl is not sustainable and in PR it is killing cities from the outside. It is making government bigger, and it is making the government spend more on mantaining infrastructure. Oh, how I liked it when life was simple, and all you had to do to get around San Juan was ride the streetcar.
Most places in the US are unsustainable because of such high oil dependence.

Aside from waste management concerns, I consider that life in Puerto Rico is unsustainable for several factors. Again, the ever growing population puts a strain on everything from housing to hospitals. You can only build so many homes and hospitals on an island 100 x 35 miles. Traffic gridlock is another concern given that there is only so much land which can be allocated for new highways. All this aside one has to consider the costs associated with importing more than 90% of what is consumed on the island.

On mainland USA there is enough room to build homes, hospitals and highways on an as-needed basis. With the exception of some small eastern states, land limitations do not factor into the equation.

As other WTE PPP's have demonstrated, the private company needs a certain amount of trash to earn money. If PR wants to lower the amount of garbage that goes to waste (not recycled), this is in direct conflict with what two government agencies want to accomplish.

This is a correct and valid point. Privately owned WTE power plants do require a guaranteed amount of trash in order to turn over a profit from the tipping fees and the production of power.

However, while it is indeed the goal of Puerto Rico's Solid Waste Authority for people to lower the amount of individual trash generation, the fact is that this is one goal the authorities are still very far and away from. This will require education, habit formation, and stiff penalties. Until such time the waste stream is wide and plenty at the tune of 11,000 tons of trash per day.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:17 AM
 
Location: Summerville
7,934 posts, read 17,323,940 times
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If that facility is 20 years old it is most likely not under the most strict guide lines for emmisions just like our older coal facilities.

We have two incinerators here that burn trash/fuel mixture to generate electricity, one is being shutdown due to the fact that it polutes too much.
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