By Timothy Williams
New York Times
11 January 2015
With landfills shunned, recycling programs stalled and the country’s record-setting trash output unyielding, new waste-to-energy plants are being eyed as a path to salvation. Facilities common in Europe are under consideration in Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia, Wisconsin and elsewhere. And in Florida, the nation’s first new commercial garbage incinerator in 20 years is about to be fired up.
Environmental groups oppose them, saying that although cleaner than the incinerators of the past, waste-to-energy plants still emit mercury, lead, dioxins and a variety of other toxic substances. And the history of incineration offers a cautionary tale, producing alarm among some who live nearby.
Read more at Environmental Health News.
In the latest version of the toxic merry-go-round, the incinerator company Wheelabrator admitted that it routinely burns its air pollution control filters loaded with toxic chemicals with its incoming trash. These are the baghouse filters that capture dust particles generated by the burning process and are packed with heavy metals, like lead and cadmium, and dioxins, one of the most toxic chemicals ever tested.
Public hearings were held this summer when 31 local residents appealed the state’s decision to extent the permit for the Wheelabrator trash incinerator in Claremont, NH. During the hearings, Work on Waste (WOW), a local community-based group that has been fighting to shut down the incinerator since it opened 27 years ago, stated that Wheelabrator’s permit violations included burning nearly 12,500 filters between 1995 and 2010. During this time Wheelabrator applied for a permit renewal, but failed to mention that they were burning the filter bags. Wheelabrator’s defense is that burning the filters is a common practice in the incineration industry. Read more >