ReVenture addresses Charlotte City Council concerns

The Charlotte City Council recently petitioned Foresite Development President Tom McKittrick for more information about his company’s plan to build Reventure Park near Belmeade Drive and Mount Holly Road in the Mountain Island area. Reventure Park is proposed to include a 30-megawatt biomass power plant, solar power field and a biodiesel plant on a 667-acre industrial park on the banks of the Catawba River.

Here are the council member’s questions followed by McKittrick’s answers.

Editors note: Some answers have been trimmed due to space constraints.

Nancy Carter: I want to understand better the process of incineration / gasification. I’m concerned about placing a cap on the yard waste as it pertains to trees in order to prohibit the use of live trees to feed the project.

McKittrick: Our project will not “burn” raw garbage but will utilize Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). The RDF will be created by processing garbage through a highly automated system that will remove additional recyclables and materials that cause air pollution like PVC, electronics and batteries. The remaining “non-recyclable” material is shredded into confetti and then pressed into pellets. This process transforms garbage that is typically buried in a landfill into an “Engineered Fuel” that can be utilized to create clean electricity.

With respect to live trees, ReVenture will make an absolute statement that live trees will not be used in any way to fuel our Waste-to-Energy facility. The use of live trees in wood fired biomass plants is a major concern for most environmental groups and we share their concern. The only wood material we are currently planning to utilize as fuel is a portion of the urban yard debris that is currently collected by Compost Central and not composted. This material (approximately 50,000 tons annually) is currently used as boiler fuel in South Carolina.

Patsy Kinsey: Will all solid waste go to the old Statesville avenue landfill site and be turned into fuel on that site? Are we just turning this back into a landfill?

McKittrick: The Statesville Avenue site is one of two options that ReVenture is considering for the development of the Recycled Fuel Facility that will create RDF as outlined above. The other is a site we have under contract in the direct vicinity. Both locations are ideal in that they are centrally located and will minimize vehicle miles driven and improve air quality in comparison to trucks currently going into Cabarrus County.

We have teamed with FCR Casella for the design and operation of this $27 million dollar “Recycled Fuel” facility that will transform Mecklenburg County’s garbage into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). This facility is not a “landfill.” It will create more than 100 new jobs, push Mecklenburg County’s recycling rate to 35 to 40 percent, and recover energy from material that is currently buried (wasted) at the Speedway Landfill.

Warren Turner: I am concerned about odor and safety.

In selecting FCR Casella to design and operate the Recycled Fuel Facility, a proven safety track record was a significant selection criterion. FCR has successfully operated Mecklenburg County’s recycling center for more than 2,786 days  without a lost time accident.
Odor control is a major part of the Recycled Fuel Facility’s design and will not produce offsite odor during the manufacturing of RDF. To control the release of odor, negative pressure will be created in the tipping and processing area. The negative pressure is created by a series of fans and duct work sized and placed appropriately. The air processed through the fan and duct work will ultimately be processed through a wet scrubber and/or biofilter system before being released to the outside environment. The material delivery doors in the tipping area will be opened and closed as quickly as possible using not more than three doors at one time.

Michael Barnes: I asked about air emissions out at the Catawba River site – How will it affect air quality at the Statesville Avenue site?

McKittrick: The Statesville Avenue and alternate site will in no way affect air quality as no combustion, incineration or gasification will be taking place at that facility. For the Waste-to-Energy power plant at ReVenture we have committed that our facility will qualify for a “Minor Source” air permit. The EPA is currently considering changes in the air quality requirements for waste-to energy power plants and our project is being designed to comply with these new, more stringent regulations.

We have committed to a gasification concept because of its potential to provide the absolute lowest air emissions of any available technology. There will be multiple public hearings as a result of our air permit providing ample opportunities to hear and address the public’s concerns.

David Howard: What are the limits on this facility in terms of processing capacity? Where do the items separated out that are not used as fuel or recycling go to the landfill?

McKittrick: The Recycled Fuel Facility will be able to process a maximum of 500,000 tons annually. Beyond 500,000 tons, the facility has diminishing economics as transportation costs begin to outweigh the benefits. Our hope is that every community will incorporate a Recycled Fuel Facility that will maximize recycling and create energy or fuel from the remaining material.

Barnes: Large numbers of vehicles transporting trash to this site. Will this negatively affect the quality of life for nearby residents?

McKittrick: Currently all vehicles carrying trash associated with Mecklenburg County’s waste agreement travel I-85 to Cabarrus County. We will have in place a policy that will ensure all truck traffic the majority of which are City of Charlotte trucks stays on designated truck routes and avoids any residential areas.

Howard: Will the 15 percent of trash that cannot used by ReVenture Park go to the landfill?

McKittrick: Of the approximately 500,000 tons of trash that could eventually go through our Recycled Fuel Facility, approximately 15 percent will not be able to be recycled or used as fuel. This material will need to be landfilled. The size of the Recycled Fuel Facility will be maxed at approximately 500,000 tons of trash. There is approximately 1.3 million tons of residential and commercial trash generated within Mecklenburg County each year, which is unfortunately far more than our proposed facility can handle. Again, our hope is other communities will follow Mecklenburg County’s example and encourage the development of these facilities so that more trash can be diverted from the landfills and more recyclables and energy can be recovered.

Turner: Given that Foresite Development has told us that there is no other facility doing this process, I think it is important that we get a specific answer about the equipment they will use and public safety.

McKittrick: Many of the systems that will be within the Recycled Fuel Facility have been used in Europe and the U.S. for many years. ReVenture has partnered with FCR Casella to design and operate the Recycled Fuel Facility. The facility process design consists of standard existing technology for sorting recyclables, removing contaminates and creating RDF. The process system design is being done by Bulk Handling Systems ( which is an industry leader in equipment design for these facilities. There are multiple RDF facilities successfully operating throughout the country.

Howard: The area (where ReVenture Park is proposed) is where the city has invested a lot and we don’t want to do anything that will negatively impact that investment. We need to understand how this facility will impact the area.

McKittrick: Utilizing reasonable assumptions, it is possible the project will generate more than 1,000 jobs when fully developed. We believe ReVenture will become the regional employment center needed within the Catawba Area Plan to contribute to sustainable development principals – living, working and recreating with minimal commuting time and offering alternatives to automobile with greenway connections we are putting inplace.

• Catawba River District: ReVenture has agreed to adhere to the additional review and certification processes established by the Catawba River District. This is voluntary and something we have chosen to do beyond any level of regulation.

• White Water Center: We have discussed at length with Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities to incorporate design components that will minimize visual impact and eliminate any odor potential. CMU has committed to providing state of the art technology that will alleviate any concerns related to the proposed new wastewater treatment facility.

• Natural Amenities: We are also working with the North Carolina Wildlife Federation to qualify the site for a Wildlife & Industry Together certification that will involve multiple wildlife habitat enhancement and education endeavors. With more than 1.4 miles of frontage on the Catawba River and 1.5 miles along Long Creek, there are multiple opportunities to enhance the already abundant wildlife. A habitat enhancement plan is currently underway  as well as an education plan that will incorporate learning experiences for students in the surrounding schools.

• Greenways: Part of ReVenture’s development plan includes a 185 acre conservation easement along Long Creek that will connect the Carolina Thread Trail to the White Water Center. This will expand the trail system for U S National Whitewater Center. In addition, we have met with the Mount Holly Community Development Foundation to discuss ways to connect their extensive greenway network to the ReVenture site. Once this connection is complete, it would provide approximately 18 miles of greenways in Mecklenburg and Gaston County, one of the largest in the State.

• Regional Benefit: ReVenture has recently begun discussions with Mount Holly and Gaston County to designate the ReVenture site and the industrial property directly across the river in Mount Holly as a Multi County Clean Energy Park. This endeavor will attempt to link the existing industrial processes where possible to ensure all opportunities for renewable energy, alternative fuels, and energy efficiency are explored. Additionally branding initiatives of the area including Mount Holly would be implemented to further enhance the regions Clean Energy and green centric focus.

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