Unwanted Waste: Company Busted For Illegally Dumping Hundreds of Giant Wind Turbine Blades

Millions of industrial wind turbine blades are heading for landfill to become a toxic headache for future generations, all in the name of purportedly “saving the planet”.

While dumping 45-60m long blades weighing between 10 and 20 tonnes in giant pits might seem like an easy solution, it’s a costly one that plenty of wind power outfits seem happy to avoid.

Instead of fronting up to pay the bill to dump them, hundreds of them are being stacked up across America’s Midwest in the hope that no one will notice.

Company illegally storing hundreds of old wind turbine blades at three Iowa sites
Iowa Capital Dispatch
Perry Beeman
7 July 2021

State environmental regulators say an out-of-state firm has illegally stored hundreds of wind turbine blades in three Iowa towns and should be investigated by the attorney general’s office.

Global Fiberglass Solutions Inc. has a combined 1,300 turbines at sites in Newton, Atlantic and Ellsworth. Since 2017, the Washington state-based company has said it plans to recycle the blades.

It hasn’t. So Wednesday, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission voted to refer the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ case against Global to the attorney general’s office. Global faced a series of DNR orders and agreements but missed deadlines to recycle the blades, bury them in certified landfills, or ship them out of state.

The company also failed to provide a $2 million bond to cover the costs of disposal if the firm abandoned the sites. Otherwise, state officials fear, taxpayers could have to pay.

Iowa over the years has faced a series of cases in which recyclers have accepted payments from people to take tires or other materials for recycling, then never processed them.

Nationally, tens of thousands of wind turbine blades have become worn or obsolete. They are hard to transport, and apparently hard to recycle or to take to a landfill. The issue has been covered by Bloomberg, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Scientific American.

The Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operations told the Des Moines Register in 2019 that the U.S. failed to consider what would be done with the hard-to-crush reinforced plastic blades when they ran their course at thousands of wind-turbine sites.

James Pray, attorney for the owner of the Newton site, Phoenix Investments, said his client considers the 868 blades at the property abandoned. Pray said Global owes the site owner $1 million in rent.

Global has about 400 blades stored at a site in Ellsworth and at least 22 in Atlantic, the state reported.

Global Fiberglass executive Don Lilly said via email, “I think you can say that we have always cooperated with Iowa DNR and we will continue to do so.”

In legal documents, DNR charges that Global has spent three years accumulating blades and hasn’t recycled any. Because the three sites were never approved as disposal sites, the blades have been disposed of improperly, DNR lawyers contend.

In February, the Iowa Economic Development Authority board terminated Global’s contract for assistance, at the company’s request. IEDA approved more than $200,000 in tax credits for Global. The firm had planned a $6.1 million capital investment and wanted to create 30 jobs paying more than $18 an hour.

The commission refers cases to the attorney general in large part because of an impasse or because the attorney general can seek stiffer penalties.

In Sweetwater, Texas, Global has told local authorities it plans to turn old blades into plastic pellets or panels for reuse. The company’s website said the firm also plans to make railroad ties out of material from the blades.
Iowa Capital Dispatch

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Albert Rogers says:

    According to the EIA figures collected by Joris van Dorp for his analysis of what nuclear power would cost for 100% of US electric power, the peak demand in 2017 was in summer, at about 700 GW. This means that the USA needs to call upon that much at the instant of the peak, and have a full response within minutes. Response of that sort from wind or even solar, is out of the question. At https://anero.id/energy/wind-energy/2021/july for instance, you can find “CF %” data on 67 “wind farms” in Australia for July 2021. The total “capacity” is 8587 MW.
    But press on the MW button, and get the actual megawatts, including the Total.
    Thus, for any month in this and the previous two years, you can estimate how much storage would be needed in order NOT to have to keep running “spinning reserve” gas turbines.
    It is inordinately more than can be imagined.

  2. Peter Pronczak says:

    According to https://www..americangeosciences.org Offshore wind speeds tend to be faster than on land. Small increases in wind speed yield large increases in energy production: a turbine in a 15mph wind can generate twice as much energy as a turbine in a 12mph wind.
    So, an 18mph wind can quadruple a 12mph wind, etc, (fact check). No wonder gasoline engines were invented for land travel, but why oh why, were sailing ships abandoned.
    Maybe some bright spark foresaw a little virus playing havoc with international ship deliveries.

    Now, the EIA (that promotes sound policy making) statistical figures, calculated by https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org an offshore wind farm is estimated to cost $US6,230 per kilowatt, while those costs for an onshore wind farm are estimated to be $US2,213 per kilowatt. If sums are right, making $US4,017 per kilowatt more, but that’s got to be worth it so that dead birds and insects, etc., don’t cover the ground making extra clean-up costs.

    Now lets see? Estimated bad weather maintenance delays, estimated component liberation repairs, etc. Damn! Calculator must be busted or the battery’s flat. Again! That was unexpected.
    Bugger it, where’s that slab of beer I got for the bit of Sun?

    Disposal of old blades? Oops, it’s fallen in the water!

    • Albert Rogers says:

      Correction: the cube of 18/12 is 3.375, not 4.
      But the full power of the wind is deliberately NOT used at speeds above about half of the lowest “full power” speed, 12 m/s (metres/second) 12 m/s is close to 27 mph.
      Even so, the variation of power as the cube of the wind speed only makes worse the variation of wind speed.
      Birds at sea are worse threatened by these giga-whirlygigs because in nature, especially the biggest of them, they don’t have to worry about stuff sweeping up or hustling down upon them.
      Offshore wind turbine infrasound is even more environmentally horrible than onshore, because the most precious fauna in the sea are sensitive to it, and it carries Really Well.

      • Peter Pronczak says:

        Thanks for that. What it boils down to is profiteers from RE don’t give a damn about anything but money & politicians promoting it, are doing what they’re told; as usual hoodwinking the public.

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