An Open Letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell regarding Franklin ash dump legislation –
Dear Gov. Rell,
At this writing [June 12, 2009], Senate Bill 3 rests atop your desk awaiting enactment or veto ahead of next week’s deadline.
SB3, if enacted, would prohibit the acquisition or use of a pristine, sensitive parcel of land in Franklin for a colossal ash dump.
I urge you to sign this bill.
To do so would not only preserve that land, but safeguard the drinking water of most Franklin residents, whose wells tap the aquifer beneath.
Likewise you would protect the water quality of the adjacent Shetucket River, from which Sprague residents draw their drinking water.
As urgent as these environmental issues are, please know this initiative is about so much more.
First, the 21-year-old method through which these dumps are sited is outdated and flawed. I remain incredulous that CRRA has yet to demonstrate its need for a new facility; the process should begin with DEP certification of need.
This is especially true given the estimated 17-year lifespan of an existing, comparable dump in Putnam, only a short distance away, where 400 additional acres are available for expansion thereafter.
Money as a carrot
There is apparently a great deal of money involved, too, because CRRA has offered Franklin $5 per ton of ash it would dump: $1.5 million for the estimated 300,000 tons of ash per year.
But town residents voted overwhelmingly to reject the plan and the money, expressing their preference to preserve their quality of life.
In light of all this, your veto of this bill would show complete disregard for the well-being of those it would harm the most and their opinions, voiced almost as one through the ballot box.
Your veto would also be contrary to the vote of all but 4 Republican Senators when our chamber resoundingly approved the bill last month.
Please sign Senate Bill 3 and join all of us who have been working to avoid what would become an irreversible ecological disaster.
Sincerely, Sen. Edith G. Prague – 19th District
[Editor's note: The CRRA, a quasi-governmental agency charged with disposing of the ash generated by burning the state's trash, has been directed to close the existing ash dump in Hartford and has selected a 570-acre site behind the former Franklin Mushroom Farm on Route 32, along the river, as its preferred new dump site. The CRRA has begun testing on the privately-owned property. Current laws give the town of Franklin little or no say in whether the dump will be sited at that location.
SB3 or Public Act 09-112 is entitled, An Act Prohibiting the Acquisition or Use of Certain Parcels of Land as Ash Residue Disposal Areas and Concerning the Operation of a Food-waste-to-energy plant. Its purpose is to "prohibit the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority [CRRA] from purchasing, condemning, accepting title to, using or otherwise acquiring certain parcels of land[ in the town of Franklin, and the town of Windham] for the purpose of establishing an ash residue disposal area.
It also states, “No certificate of environmental compatibility and public need under chapter 277a of the general statutes and no permit under section 22a-208a of the general statutes shall be issued for the construction or operation of a food-waste-to-energy plant in a distressed municipality (1) with a population of more than one hundred thousand, and (2) in which a liquefied natural gas storage facility of not less than ten million and not more than fifteen million gallons and a combustion turbine power plant of less than one hundred megawatts are located, if such food-waste-to-energy plant would be located within two miles of one or more university regional campuses, hospitals, performing arts centers, churches and schools, including magnet schools. For the purposes of this section, “distressed municipality” has the same meaning as in section 32-9p of the general statutes.
The bill was co-sponsored by:
Sen. Edith G. Prague, 19th Dist.
Rep. Kevin Ryan, 139th Dist.
Rep. Susan M. Johnson, 49th Dist.
Rep. Jeffrey J. Berger, 73rd Dist.
Rep. Larry B. Butler, 72nd Dist.
Rep. David Aldarondo, 75th Dist.
Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, 3rd Dist.
Rep. Joan A. Lewis, 8th Dist.
Rep. Barbara L. Lambert, 118th Dist.
Rep. Catherine F. Abercrombie, 83rd Dist.
Sen. Mary Ann Handley, 4th Dist.
Sen. Edwin A. Gomes, 23rd Dist.
Sen. Thomas A. Colapietro, 31st Dist.