Alert 659: Protect our children’s health: Don’t let incinerator pollution back into Delaware

Greendel Alert 659:  Protect our children’s health:  Don’t let incinerator pollution back into Delaware

Update on Ciba’s attempt to bring back incineration
Meeting to promote incinerator being held Thurs. May 28th in Newport, 7:00 pm

“I’m going to oppose any change. If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters”
–Sen Dave McBride

“nothing less is at stake than our health and the health of our children.”
–Alan Muller, Green Delaware

See Alert 654: Ciba (BASF) rolls out a new air pollution threat to your health….. and other posts on greendel.org for background info.

Green Delaware sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Town of Newport.  From Newport’s response, we learned that “the Town of Newport does not have any information of any form regarding CIBA’s desire to implement a biomass power plant on or around the Newport plant.” (Email from Town Manager Wendy King.)

We also learned that in the past two years Newport has received $375,000 in grants from the Ciba Foundation ” … to turn the Tidal Lagoon into an Ecology Center.” ( http://newportde.gov/doc/Minutes121808.pdf).

The Town is having a meeting about the incinerator scheme:

NOTICE
Town of Newport
General Town Meeting
Thursday, May 28, 2009
15 N. Augustine Street
[Old Town Hall]
Newport, DE  19804
7:00 p.m.
Click link for map:  http://newportde.gov/2.html#

But look at the agenda:  The Town doesn’t know anything about it, but calls it a “clean, renewable energy system.”

Agenda
1.    Discuss a proposal by Ciba Corporation to introduce a clean, renewable energy system using biomass technology that they feel would provide most of the power for their site, eliminate their reliance on fossil fuels and greatly reduce carbon emissions.
2.    Public Comment/Q&A

Ciba’s burner contractor, Intrinergy, returned our call and invited us to meet with them.  We said in effect, “sure, after you send us some information about your intentions….” We’ve heard nothing more.  The tactic is to deny the public solid information.  What do they want to burn?  How much?  What would the emissions be?  And so on….  Many people are concerned that Ciba might also want to burn chemical wastes generated on site.

Delaware’s anti-burner laws are clear–they essentially say “no burner within 3 miles of a residential property, church, or school.”  This law, passed in 2000, has good reasons behind it:  People got tired of fighting one burner proposal after another.  They knew Delaware’s air was polluted and more burners would make it worse.  They knew Delaware was already an unhealthy place.

The burner people, of course, hate this law, and in 2000 they had the support of some so-called “environmental” organizations that ought to know better.  They hate it because they know the environmental regulatory process, otherwise known as “getting the air permit,” is something they own.  Permits, if it gets to that stage, are almost never denied.

This is why our laws against burners need to stay as they are.  If they are weakened, we’d be back to fighting burners one-at-a-time.

We hear that DNREC official Phil Cherry will be at the meeting, sent by DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.  The DNREC didn’t support passing the no-more-polluting-burners law and we don’t trust the agency not to support weakening it now.

Some of the pols we’ve talked to about this are trying to spin this as a decision for Newport residents.  More than a few residents are Ciba employees or pensioners and might be influenced.  This is wrong–the pollution from a burner wouldn’t stay in the Town of Newport, obviously.  This is a statewide issue.

Think again about the lack of any details. This is another common tactic.  “Open the door now and find out later what comes through it.”

Another common pro-burner argument: “the technology is a lot better now.” No, it isn’t, for the most part.  But in any case the argument is pretty irrelevant, because the burner that got built would not be the cleanest possible but the cheapest that could be permitted.

We expect the official Newport meeting to be primarily a dog-and-pony show in favor of incineration.  They will deny that the proposal would be an incinerator and call it a “biomass power plant” or the like.  Should Green Delaware hold our own public meeting to explore the other side of the story?  Want to help organize such a meeting?  Let us know.

Why does this matter so much?  While details of this scheme are lacking, I’ve been looking at wood burner projects around the country.  The “cleanest” one I’ve seen was expected to belch out one million pounds per year of health-damaging air pollutants, such as lead, arsenic, mercury, formaldehyde and sulfuric acid.  ( Emissions details )  Wood just isn’t a clean fuel.

Dr James Prescott of Lewes recently wrote ( http://greendel.org/?p=9137):

Toxic environments are the greatest threat to public health yet the burden of these health costs both short and long term is nowhere mentioned. Gov. Markell did not mention that Delaware has one of the highest infant mortality rates among the 50 states where only five other States have worse infant mortality rates than Delaware.
Infant mortality is a better indicator of the effects of toxic environments than cancer rates, as it takes many years for cancer to develop with its many confounding variables which are not present in infant mortality -infant deaths within the first year of life.
The cost of toxic environments upon the health of infants and children, which are lifelong in duration, are substantial.  Nearly one in three of our country’s approximately 73 million children suffer from chronic, often debilitating, sometimes deadly illnesses.
The “new pediatric morbidity” includes asthma, autism, cancer, severe allergies, birth defects, mental retardation, cleft palate and disordered endocrine systems. Cancer among children alone, which used to be a medical rarity has gone up 67 percent between 1950 and 2001.

In short, nothing less is at stake than our health and the health of our children.

Have no doubt:  Ciba aside, other burner schemes are waiting in the wings.  Think “Delaware Solid Waste Authority.”

Senator David McBride, prime sponsor of Delaware’s anti-incineration laws, recently said:

“I’m going to oppose any change. If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters”

ACTIONS you can take:  Follow Sen. McBride’s lead:  oppose weakening Delaware’s laws against incineration.  Oppose any Ciba incinerator in Newport.

  • Contact your state Senator and Representative. Contact information
  • Contact Governor Markell:  jack.markell@state.de.us, 1.800.292.9570
  • Write a letter to the editor
  • Call a radio show…..
  • Talk to you civic or community organization
  • Go to the Newport meeting and “just say NO!”

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