Playing with fire |

Playing with fire

Dear Editor:

For those tracking the evasive movement of the proposal to make Carbondale and the Mid-Continent Mine the hub of a regional waste-transport system, the sleeping “trash giant” stirred a bit last month. On Feb. 23, fire caused by spontaneous combustion erupted at the Pitkin County Landfill, bringing home one of the many dangers we are set to escort into our community under the cloak of “recycling” and “green jobs.”

For those who are not familiar with spontaneous combustion, it’s when fire ignites without an external ignition source. Unmanaged compacted waste will self-ignite if moisture and bacterial fermentation heats air to a combustion point due to being trapped by the fuel (trash) surrounding it.

Aspen firefighters were lucky, as the snow on the ground surrounding the fire allowed them to contain the blaze until it burned itself out throughout the day and night.

The Catherine Store road fire four years ago destroyed our trees and wildlife habitat but spared our homes and our lives. We were lucky, too.

How long will our luck continue?

The only thing transparent about this proposal is the fact that our county commissioners are poised to bypass us and enable MRI to become a big-box waste-takeover play. Among the laundry list of environmental concerns, unlike most businesses, these facilities are causing big, dangerous fires nationwide at a disturbing rate.

A quick Internet search reveals more than 10 fires at these facilities in the U.S. in 2011, including two injuries and one death. I am sure there are more.

After watching a 20-second video of the recycling plant fire on May 19 on YouTube (, ask yourself:

• Do we really want to take the chance to see another fire threaten our town and schools on Snowmass Drive?

• Does the handful of jobs at the proposed Carbondale trash factory provide any noticeable economic impact when weighted against the huge impact on traffic, the danger of fire and pollution in our water and air?

• Do we really believe that the best place for a waste transfer station is the entrance to our town, adjacent to the Rio Grande Trail, considering all the other, more remote locations in Garfield County?

If our answer is “yes,” then we should put this facility on the plagued Crystal River Market Place site. It would be a brilliant monument to our stupidity. encourages you to stay informed and tell others about the dangers of allowing Carbondale’s sleeping “trash giant” to awaken.

Tom Kilby


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