Mahurangi Matters, 1 July 2020 – Readers Letters

Landfills unnecessary

Your newspaper recently published comments from Steve Goldthorpe (MM June 17) regarding my earlier column on Waste-to-Energy. Mr Goldthorpe argued some important negative points on the subject of WtE. I am glad he did so, because it is exactly these that we sought to address when we conducted our worldwide investigation to find the best technology. WtE is a concept that has been around for a long time and rightly so. Communities have been treating municipal waste the same way (burying it) since the dawn of civilisation. Since then we have put a man on the moon and have been to the bottom of the deepest oceans. So, of course, we can deal with waste more effectively. Not surprisingly, there are many WtE plants operating around the world involving diverse technologies. But they all involve burning the waste, which no matter how good the filtration system is, toxins are produced and they are expelled. This is probably the real reason why there are no Waste-to-Energy plants operating today in Australasia. We plan to change this. The solution that we are offering to New Zealand is the latest technology, which does not burn the waste. Rather, it is heated several times to 1200C in a closed reactor that converts the waste to pellets and renders all toxins and pathogens harmless and inert. These pellets can be easily stored for decades or longer without deterioration, or can be used as a clean fuel source or sold on the international market where there is a significant demand. In the USGIS process the pellets are heated in a closed-system gasifier that feeds turbines that produce electricity at many times the efficiency of other WtE technologies. So for every 10 tonnes of waste processed by our method, 5MW of electricity is obtained. Processing 1500 tonnes of waste per day (Auckland’s number is close to this) would produce 750MW – a similar output to the Huntly Power Station. Compare this number to the 12MW production from the other company mentioned by Mr Goldthorpe. What we are offering is not an idealistic dream. Despite the newness of the technology, pilot plants are in operation and contracts have been signed for construction in the UK, USA and Russia. Another country is right now fast tracking approval for 30 plants. We believe that a landfill at Dome Valley is not necessary. Let’s preserve our beautiful region. A USGIS plant could take all of Auckland’s waste, making landfills a thing of the past.
Kevin Smith, managing director, The Board (abridged). The Board represents waste-to-energy company USGIS in New Zealand.

Rodney loses again

Mahurangi Matters (MM June 17) brings us the “fire sale” news that Auckland Council has sold the Orewa Council Building, paid for by Rodney ratepayers under the old District Council, for half its CV, with the proceeds going not to benefit Rodney but instead to fill the coffers of Auckland Council, which are sadly depleted from the continual mismanagement of regional resources to feed the ever-hungry city machine! This is just panic selling to protect the city centre from more cuts. At the same time our Local Board is facing a 20 per cent cut in discretionary spending, when Council only faces a cut of around 10 per cent in its annual revenues. So more must be cut from spending in Rodney to avoid cuts to the bureaucracy and maintain the high salaries of Auckland central staff who control everything. Where is the much talked about devolution to local boards, or a referendum to allow communities to actually choose their own governance? These are two classic demonstrations of the tyranny of the majority, where representatives of the majority city population expropriate and exploit the resources of the minority rural and coastal communities for their own benefit. Council’s governance structure is inherently unfit for purpose.

William Foster, Leigh