The Pilot Program

WGTB logo PNG 112x89 Post 39 in a series. When Green Turns Brown is an examination of a small town’s digester-energy project, in which Whitewater, Wisconsin would import other cities’ waste, claiming that the result would be both profitable and green.

(Every question in this series has a unique number, assigned chronologically based on when it was asked. All the questions from When Green Turns Brown can be found in the Question Bin. Today’s questions begin with No. 245.)

In the video above, Whitewater’s Wastewater Superintendent Reel describes his experimentation at the wastewater plant using industrial waste for a digester-energy project:

Umm, we are not, not processing any agricultural waste.

Question: “It’s industrial waste that we’re doing now?”

And actually we piloted industrial waste simply because the bang for the buck as far as volume to strength so to speak was much greater with industrial waste. So we piloted that. Umm, we learned a lot in a short amount of time. We made more gas than we, we couldn’t control the gas that we were making, for a period of time when we were piloting. Umm, but the issues we had we didn’t have a mode to properly get that product into out tanks we had a tanker a nine-thousand gallon tanker with flex hose going into our digesters [smiles] so we had a leak, you know, we had some issues out there but we we did run that we ran a multitude of different products into our digesters to learn in a short period of time what might work. And, ah, I think staff was very involved in that process and, umm, it was positive, we learned a lot in short period. But, because we had, we couldn’t take advantage of the gas we were creating it became more of a, ah, cost on our labor, then we had nowhere to go with the great gas we were producing. So, we learned what we could in a short amount of time but it was a strain on hours to do that in some fashion because we were doling it in a temporary fashion, ah, maintaining, you know watchin’ those hoses. We didn’t have the infrastructure in place to properly monitor that to make sure that we didn’t have issues.

Question: You can’t really cost effectively make changes that will make that viable, then?

Umm, I do think, and that’s, Nathan [Cassity, of the Donohue firm] alluded to that, umm, that we can, and that’s the baby-steps that he alluded to. And if we, my plug has always been that if we don’t try we’ll never know. Umm, but we do have a tremendous [emphasizes] amount of capacity sitting idle. at the plant. Umm, I think I stated last time, again, we have one digester empty, the other digester is only at one-fifth capacity. So, I mean, we have a lot of room, ah, to bring product in, umm, there is interest out there, umm, we know, I’ve talked to the Council about the risks with that, but I think that as we, ah, venture into that territory I think that there’s a lot of possible, positive outcomes there.

245.  How long did the pilot program last?

246.  What industrial wastes did Reel use?

247.  What quantities did he use?

248.  From what sources did he obtain those wastes?

249.  How many leaks did the program experience, and of what type, and in what volume?

250.  Did Reel report leaks to anyone else in city government?  If so, to whom?

251.  Did Reel or anyone else in government report leaks to county, state, or federal agencies?

252.  How did Reel come upon the idea of attaching flex hose to a 9,000-gallon tank truck for his experiment?

253.  Where did the gas Reel produced go?

254.  Why would Reel undertake a pilot program when, by his own admission, the city “didn’t have the infrastructure in place to properly monitor that to make sure that we didn’t have issues”?

255.  When Reel talks about describing risks to the city at public meetings, can he point to a single instance where he considered risks other than adequate supply of imported wastes?  (That is, can Reel show that he has publicly discussed the environmental and health aspects of waste importation?)

256.  Could the so-called ‘baby-steps’ program be rapidly escalated to large-scale importation program? If not, why not (specifically)?

257.  Isn’t it obvious that Reel wants a large-scale importation program?

258.  Where does Reel think money from an importation program principally derives?  Does he think it’s gas production, or tipping fees for items imported by truck and dumped into Whitewater’s digester?

259.  Did Reel receive approval from anyone else in city government to conduct these experiments, or did he act on his own?  If he received approval, from whom did he receive approval?

260.  Do Reel, Clapper, or others in city government think that large quantities of liquids and solids imported into Whitewater from other places, after processing, wouldn’t still require removal and dissemination (in their converted forms)?  That is, they’ve worked to seek quantity in (by their own statements) but have they considered equally the quantities to be returned to the environment?