GTC to Hear Petition Asking for Ban on Energy Projects Within Reservation
By Nate Wisneski - Kalihwisaks
The General Tribal Council (GTC) will have final say when it comes to
housing gasification, waste-to-energy, or plastics recycling facilities within
the Oneida Tribal reservation. The GTC will meet for a special meeting on
Sunday, May 5 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center.
Petitioner Leah Dodge is asking the GTC to direct the Oneida Business
Committee (OBC) to stop Oneida Seven Generations Corporation (OSGC) from
building gasification, waste-to-energy, or plastics recycling plants within the
Oneida Tribal reservation boundaries.
“(OBC) Resolution 11-08-00-B states that the future of the Oneida
Tribe and all life that sustains us depends on protection from dioxin, that
tribes face increased exposure to dioxin and other pollutants due to our
land-based culture, and that dioxin is a known carcinogen causing severe health
damage. OSGC admits their previous proposals would emit dioxin and that their
latest proposal is a stepping-stone to the large facilities they sought
before,” said Dodge.
In the meantime, the OBC passed a resolution in 2010 supporting the
waste-to-energy project. It was
reaffirmed by a unanimous vote again this month.
With OSGC having their waste-to-energy facility in Green Bay on hold
while it goes through the legal system they turned their attention to the
development of a plastics recycling facility with the intentions of placing the
plant at N7329 Water Circle Place in Oneida.
The former Tower Foods location will house a system designed to
convert high food grade plastic, like fast food cups, into a base oil. The oil will
then be sold to oil refineries.
The Oneida location has been on hold since a January meeting between
OSGC’s Board of Directors and the OBC. During the meeting a few members of the
OBC expressed concern over the plant.
“At the annual shareholder meeting with the business committee,
members of the business committee raised questions about the sighting of a
plastics to oil facility at the old Tower Foods sight. Based on those concerns,
the OSGC board placed the project on hold until the board could complete the
due diligence,” said OSGC Board Chairman William Cornelius. “Once the due
diligence was complete, the board would set forward a recommendation to the
Dodge is aware of
the plant being put on hold but would like all dioxin-emitting plants banned
from the reservation and has taken issue with OSGC’s information about their
“OSGC has been
dishonest with the public and elected officials and withheld information
they're supposed to make available to GTC and the Tribe's Chief Financial
Officer. OSGC's business model is based on marketing dioxin-emitting
incinerators to tribes. We need to return to the values represented by
Resolution 11-08-00-B: Opposing Noxious Emissions, Incinerators & Dioxin
Anywhere,” said Dodge. “I don't know if OSGC withheld the fact that they intend
to emit dioxin from the Business Committee, the Land Commission or other
decision makers, but I do know they've told Tribe members and surrounding
communities numerous falsehoods and they continue to do so.”
OSGC Chief Executive Officer Kevin Cornelius said they are
not using incinerators and the amount of dioxins that would be released by the
plastics recycling facility would be very minimal compared to surrounding
“Incineration you have to have a flame. We are melting food grade plastic in an
enclosed vessel and operating a generator. There is no open flame when we are melting the plastics,”
said Cornelius. “The Turtle School has five boilers. One boiler running for two
hours and 15 minutes gives off more emissions than our plant will in 24 hours.
Norbert Hill Center has 10 boilers. Those boilers are clean, high efficient
boilers, in spite of that, our stuff is cleaner.
Cornelius also addressed community concerns regarding OSGC’s
audits and acknowledged receiving a loan from the tribe to be used for
litigation costs associated with the current legal proceedings regarding the
Green Bay plant.
“Every year the OBC receives our audit and can accept or
reject it. Since I have been here they have accepted every audit report we’ve
done. If there is a problem I am not aware of it,” he said. “Most of the money
we generate and spend are payments back to the tribe to maintain assets own by
the tribe. When we do project development most of the funds are grants or
outside sources, not the tribe.”
Dodge would like to see other options utilized to create
“Pyrolysis and gasification are not
recycling and garbage is not a form of renewable energy. Recycling keeps
material in the waste stream but OSGC's proposals would combust/incinerate
materials. Renewable energy comes from sources that we can't extinguish such as
solar, wind or geothermal energy. We should stop using non-recyclable materials
in the first place and move towards a zero-waste policy by encouraging real
recycling and truly renewable energy,” she said.
“I don't support incinerators in anyone's backyard and
there's always someone downwind. OSGC cannot point to one commercial facility
doing what they propose. Wherever the technology has been tested it's failed.
Treating the sky like a landfill is not a valid solution,” she said.