More than three years after first proposing the construction of a $750 million Resource Recovery Facility — or waste-to-energy — plant in Arecibo, Albany, NY-based Energy Answers confirmed Thursday that the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board of Puerto Rico granted the Air Quality Location and Construction Final Permit needed to move forward with the project.
Energy Answers vice-president and project manager, Mark J. Green, described the final determination of the Board as a great achievement for the company and project development team, which occurs after an extensive and responsible analysis by this agency.
“The Environmental Quality Board permit comes after a rigorous and thorough scientific analysis, which included extensive public participation and evaluation by the agency’s technical staff and personal inspection of other similar facilities in the United States,” said Green.
The EQB’s permit follows the issuance of the final federal Environmental Protection Agency air permit granted earlier this year.
“With the final EPA air permit, and now the final EQB permit, it is confirmed, without doubt, that this operation is safe for Puerto Rico, protects human health and the environment and complies with all applicable local and federal regulations. Additionally, the project is now one step closer to creating extensive employment opportunities in the Arecibo region and generating economic activity that will benefit many sectors of the community”, said Green.
The Resource Recovery Facility proposed by Energy Answers has the capacity to process approximately 2,100 tons of municipal solid waste per day and produce approximately 80 megawatts of alternative renewable energy.
The project represents the creation of more than 4,000 direct jobs over the course of the 36-month construction process, and once in operation, the creation of 150 full-time direct green jobs. In addition, this combined economic activity will generate opportunities for thousands of indirect and induced jobs and for the acquisition of goods and services from within the region.
The project first proposed in 2011 has seen its share of setbacks, most notably losing needed waste stream and the water supplies essential for the plant’s operation, which were secured under the Gov. Luis Fortuño administration, but reverted under the current government.
Meanwhile, opposition to the project, which began with a Coalition of Organizations Against the Incinerator, has broadened to include a wide cross-section of Puerto Rican society. Opponents include the Sierra Club and Arecibo Basura Cero (Zero Garbage), the Mayors Association, the Mayors Federation, the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Medical Doctors, and cattle farmers from the island’s north coast.
For a comprehensive look at the plant’s track record thus far, please click here.