Activists in Puerto Rico file suit to block Synergy Renewables' US$50M waste-to-energy project proposed for Barceloneta on grounds that environmental impact study does not adequately address possible effects

Tracy McDonald

Tracy McDonald

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico , January 18, 2012 () – Activists in Puerto Rico have filed suit to block a waste-to-energy project that is intended to address two of the island's major problems: high power costs and a shortage of landfill space.

An environmental impact study of the $50 million waste gassification plant proposed for the town of Barceloneta does not adequately address its possible effects, Camilla Feibelman, a coordinator for the Sierra Club in Puerto Rico, said at a news conference Wednesday.

The suit seeks to have the environmental impact report invalidated before the island territory's environmental quality board can issue a final permit to Sunbeam Synergy Puerto Rico LLC, said Feibelman, who opposes the project along with Barceloneta community activists.

Sunbeam Synergy is a joint venture of Synergy Renewables LLC of Dallas, Texas and Sunbeam Energy Holdings, Inc. of Falmouth, Massachusetts. Synergy Renewables says on its website that it is a partnership that includes a company owned by T. Boone Pickens, the oil and gas magnate who has launched a public campaign to promote alternative energy sources.

The Puerto Rico plant would heat household trash to produce gas to generate power, taking about 272 tons of garbage per day from the communities of Barceloneta, Morovis, and Ciales. Officials see it as a partial solution to a shortage of landfill space and to help ease the island's reliance on oil.

Opponents charge that the environmental impact report prepared by Sunbeam Synergy was insufficient and that the plant would not supply enough power to justify the amount needed to make it run.

A spokeswoman for Synergy Renewables, Judy Shelton, said company officials were not available for comment. A message sent by email to Sunbeam Energy was not returned.

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