Letter to Editor: Concerns about Vortex project

Dear Friends and Neighbors in Lincoln County, and especially in the City of Caliente:

On the agenda for the Caliente City Council for this coming Thursday, January 19, 2017, at 6:00 p.m, is this item: " Item 7/a/vi: For possible action: Approve/Deny sending a letter to Nevada Division of Business and Industry in support of Vortex Power Inc." (See Agenda, Caliente City Council, January 19, 2017 - - available at Caliente City Hall)

Steve and I attended a special meeting on Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the Caliente City Council Room to hear Mr. James VanNatta, of Shelbyville, Indiana, explain his proposal to build a device to burn waste. He calls the waste-burner, "The Vortex". He wants to build it out in the mouth of Antelope Canyon. We spent almost two hours hearing his presentation and answering (and asking) questions.
Since that time, we are extremely concerned.

We are extremely concerned because of our past experience: In 1991, Steve and I (and others) worked for many months to defeat a proposal to build a hazardous waste incinerator (HWI) in Castleton, Nevada. (We were successful in defeating it.)

We learned a lot from that experience. On April 17, 1991, I, Karen Culverwell, personally called a woman in El Dorado, Arkansas (where a hazardous waste incinerator has operated for 18 years) and she said to me, "It's the worst thing that can happen to you...." She said their children were sick, their animals were sick, - - and no one would do anything about it because such a profit was being made... (by the HWI company).

Our research revealed these frightening facts: 1) that there are men who worked at HWI's who have been so badly disabled that they can never work again (or even function normally) because of being exposed to hazardous wastes while transporting, sorting or unloading it.....
2) That the hazardous waste business is a lucrative business - - that some companies pay up to between $2 and $6 per pound to get rid of their especially toxic wastes. (That's between $4000 and $12,000 per ton - - and this statistic was taken from 1991 research....)
That the people who build the HWIs do not tell the whole truth about their operations because the profit is so lucrative....

3) In Denmark, England, and Sweden, (among other places), the milk and meat from cows which have grazed close to a HWI cannot be sold on the public market because it is so badly contaminated..... (What could happen to our alfalfa, beef cattle, or even our own garden produce, living this close to a waste burner?)

4) We took a random sample survey of the people in Lincoln County during the week of May 7-14, 1991, which revealed that 64% of the people in the county were opposed to having a hazardous waste incinerator built here. We believe that the percentage of people in opposition would be higher today is we all knew more details about the real process.

Granted, Mr. VanNatta calls his Vortex a "waste burner" (not a HWI) and he says that he will "start" by burning "biomass" (pinion/juniper trees) from the local area. But he also mentioned several times (in the January 11, 2017 meeting) the possibility of burning other types of waste: tires, medical waste, municipal solid waste. (Where is he going to get this "other waste"? Will it be the imported lucrative hazardous waste that no one else will accept? Or just the "normal" municipal waste that is having a hard time finding a place to rest? Who is going to be checking to see WHAT type of waste he is burning when his Vortex is up and running? )

Mr. VanNatta believes that he can operate a Vortex safely and without any adverse effects to the community. But he cannot prove any of this because he doesn't have ANY functioning Vortex anywhere in the U.S. (I have been told that there was a Vortex sold to Poland - but no one seems to know anything about it at this point in time.) He doesn't have any data to prove anything he says. He does say that he has the data - - but that he can't show it to the public...... (Are we going to be his guinea pigs?)

Mr. VanNatta says that he will provide a number of jobs. Do we want jobs that could be hazardous to our workers' health?
Our research is 25 years old - - but Mr. VanNatta's system was developed 40 years ago.... Why is there no place in the U.S. which will let him build and operate it?

In conclusion, Steve and I suggest that our Caliente City Council consider this proposal of Mr. VanNatta with the utmost caution. Here are some things to think about:

1) Can we trust Mr. VanNatta? Are we so gullible that we are willing to take his word and allow him to build something which could hurt us all simply because he says that it will be safe? He says that he wants to be transparent (but he will not show us any data to support his proposal....)?

2) Mr. VanNatta should probably be invited to go somewhere else and test his proposal - - and if it works as he says that it will work- - and he has certified test results that he will show to us - - then he can come back to Lincoln County and seek permission to work here.
Because of what we know about burning waste, Steve and I are absolutely NOT willing to put our health, the health of our children, family and friends, and the health and well-being of our animals, water, soil, and air at this risk.

3) Is Mr. VanNatta willing to sign a legal document in which he personally agrees to pay for medical treatment for any individual whose health is adversely affected by his burning waste (of any nature)? Is he willing also to sign a legal document agreeing to pay for our animals, hay, or animal products which are adversely affected? Is he willing to sign a legal document in which he agrees to not bring in any other waste to burn? - - that he will only burn Caliente waste (including biomass)?

Steve and I feel that we have a little bit of heaven here in Lincoln County: clean air, water and soil; and good people who enjoy a healthy and productive way of life - - and we want to keep it that way.

If you have any concerns about this proposed project, please attend the January 19, 2017 Caliente City Council meeting. Please note that it starts at 6 p.m.

If you have questions, please call Steve on his cell phone: 775-962-1753 or Karen at home, 726-3620.

Sincerely, Steve and Karen Culverwell

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