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Firm eyes waste facility

February 16, 2007

Company considers building disposal site to burn medical and industrial material at extreme temps

By Robert Annis
Topics Newspapers

An out-of-state corporation is exploring the idea of building a waste-disposal facility on Indianapolis' Northwestside.

Illinois-based PEAT International wants to build a Plasma Thermal Destruction and Recovery waste facility, possibly in an industrial area on 96th Street between Michigan and Zionsville roads, said Daniel Ripes, corporate communications and business development manager. The company is also looking at other locations, he said.

The PTDR facility would incinerate up to 22 tons of medical and industrial waste a day, Ripes said. He said the technology has zero emissions because temperatures are so hot within the reactor -- averaging 1,500 degrees Celsius -- that any harmful materials are broken down to base elements.

In comparison, the temperature of lava from a volcano reaches 1,160 degrees Celsius.

The technology is fairly new, Ripes said, but the company has a similar facility in Taiwan and has a research and development facility in Huntsville, Ala.

One of the end products of the process, he said, is a synthetic gas that would help power the facility.

"It's an alternative to natural gas generated from what society discards," Ripes said, adding that the synthetic gas would have a quarter of the heat properties of natural gas.

Other end products include a black, glassy slag and a metal material, both of which Ripes claims could be repurposed for commercial uses. None of the end products would be harmful to the environment, he said.

Ann Cutler, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Indianapolis, thinks PTDR is an interesting way to dispose of potentially harmful waste. She believes that the technology isn't used more widely because of the initial cost of setting up a facility.

Cutler said residents should request more information about the facility.

"I'm a nervous mom," she said. "I'd want to see plans, but I don't see a massive issue if it was well run and monitored."

PEAT has not applied for a solid waste-processing permit, said Amy Hartsock, Indiana Department of Environmental Management spokeswoman.

Ripes said if the company decides to apply for a permit, it would be ithin the next four to six months. He believes the facility could be built and operating within 16 to 24 months after he receives permit approval.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- February 28, 2007

The Plasma Thermal Destruction and Recovery (PTDR) waste facility proposed by PEAT International does not use incineration, burning or combustion, only gasification and vitrification, according to spokesman Daniel Ripes. This information was incorrect in a story on Page A1.