March 1, 2022

Hundreds of old wind turbine blades in field near Sidney, NE

'Burying them is not an option as long as I own that property' land owner says | Bill to prevent wind turbine blades from being buried in Nebraska | 'We don't want to be a dumping ground' | Andrew Ozaki, Lincoln Bureau CHief | KETV |

Rows of wind turbine blades cut up and sitting in a field just south of Sidney, Nebraska.

Two-hundred of them.

In the background, turbines just across the border in Colorado where blade disposal is banned at the nearby Logan County Landfill.

“Colorado has decreed that they shall not be buried. Somewhere they have to go,” said State Sen. Tom Brewer.

Brewer doesn’t want the blades buried or stored in Nebraska either.

He introduced LB 775. It would ban their disposal in the state.

“We don’t want to be a dumping ground for everyone else,” Brewer said.

According to the sign on the property, this is a temporary holding site.

The blades will be recycled starting last summer.

We reached out to the company on the sign, RiverCap Ventures several times and have not received a response.

We did talk with the owner of the property, David Phelps.

He said quote, “They’re not being disposed of there. They’re merely there for storage,” Phelps said.

“Burying them is not an option as long as I own that property,” Phelps said.

Phelps told us they’ve been there since fall of 2020.

He said he has not had any problems with RiverCap Ventures.

Phelps said RiverCap hauls away five blades a week and that all of them should be gone by the end of the year.

He added he has all the local zoning permits he needs.

Nebraska’s Department of Environment and Energy said the state currently allows recyclable material to be stored uncovered and outdoors for up to two years.

“There is no restriction. If the landowner says come and bury it on my place. There’s nothing to stop them from doing that,” Brewer said.

He is worried other landowners might not have the same feelings about disposing of the blade on their land.

Brewer is concerned because turbine blades are made with epoxy, carbon fiber and metals.

“There’s nothing good going to happen to water leaching through that into the largest aquifer in the world,” Brewer said.

Al Davis of the Nebraska Sierra Club opposes LB 775.

“I don’t think you impose a ban on a specific industry because you don’t like that industry,” Davis said.

He said there are bigger threats to the ground water and a ban on turbine blade disposal would place additional hurdles for wind energy development.

“What I think really should happen we need to find a way to cut the fiberglass up and recycle it,” Davis said.

In this case, the sign said the blades would be recycled but it is unclear what the current plan is for the blades once they leave the site.

Brewer is concerned as more blades begin to wear out, concern will grow about what to do with them.

“I think right now, we said no, until someone can come up with a good way to dispose of these that don’t hurt the environment,” Brewer said.

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