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San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors hear appeal on potential waste processing plant

The way the city of San Luis Obispo looks at trash could be changing.

“The green waste is currently taken to the landfill or to Santa Barbara County and all of that waste instead of going to the landfill at those locations, it will be brought directly here, [to the facility they plan on adding on to at 4388 Old Sante Fe Road],” Joe Szczepkowski, Director of Engineering at Hitachi Zosen Inova, explains.

After the food and green waste is processed, it will get turned into renewable energy that will be sold to PG&E.

People who live close by to the plant however, say they’re concerned about the amount of odor this plant will release in the air. Additionally, they say there’s been a lack of transparency with this project.

“We don’t know that all the bases are covered – they say: “Oh yes we’ve taken care of the odor, we’ve taken care of the traffic” but in fact, there are no plans, they haven’t let us know what they’re doing,” says Rochelle Reed-Smith, who lives near potential plant

Developers of the project, Hitachi Zosen Inova, say the plant’s odor would be minimal, telling us: “The building is fully enclosed. [Additionally] it’s under a negative pressure from our ventilation system and all of the ventilation goes out through a simple but effective bio filter that eliminates the odors – so with the doors closed, there will be no smell.”

On Tuesday, concerned neighbors brought an appeal of the project to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. While those in favor of the appeal are not against the plant entirely, they’re hoping the appeal will lead to an environmental impact report – a study the board of supervisors say could be costly and delay the project.

“It would add a lot of time and money to this project and so the desire for most people who want to see this project supported is for us to approve it,” Adam Hill, Supervisor of District Three explains.

Hitachi Zosen Inova says a plant like this is necessary to sustain energy in the future. “We are eliminating greenhouse gases by this technology and we believe it’s a great system especially for here in California,” says Szczepkowski.

Ultimately the Board of Supervisors voted to delay their decision on the appeal for 30 days, giving time for the appealants to get their questions answered. The next meeting on this case will take place on November 15th.

Hitachi Zosen Inova hopes to break ground by the end of year.

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