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E-M:/ A quick report on the medical incinerator hearing in Hamtramck.

Enviro-Mich message from RobC313@aol.com


It was a very good night, The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality 
was there to hear what Hamtramck had to say about the medical incinerator and 
they got an earful.

The standing room only crowd of over of 100 made it clear that they did not 
want this incinerator operating in our community. From local residents 
complaining of foul air and related health problems to seasoned 
environmentalists challenging the technical and legal aspects of the proposed 
permit, the state listened to demand after demand to shut the incinerator or 
hold it to the highest possible standards. 

Hamtramck Mayor Gary Zych spoke of the communities economic and cultural 
rebirth expressing concerns that the continued operation of a medical 
incinerator that emitted dioxins, the most toxic substance known to man, was 
a hindrance to the stability and revitalization of the surrounding 
neighborhood.  Also speaking on behalf of the city were Councilmembers 
Phillip Kwik and Robert Wozniak, with Kwik blasting the MDEQ for proposing 
the weak standards. Kwik then introduced his own standards based on NRDC and 
recommendations and a set of regulations requiring quarterly testing with  
mandatory, measurable, and verifiable mercury reduction plans for all of the 
sources that ship medical waste to this 25 ton per day commercial 
incinerator.  (Note: Councilmember Kwik has submitted the same regulations 
adoption by the city council and soon Hamtramck will have its own authority 
to regulate the City Medical Waste Incinerator under the strictest of 
standards and procedural rules. 

Also speaking was the city's Multicultural Director Shahab Ahmed, who 
criticized the MDEQ for publishing notices only in English claiming that over 
50% of the families in the affected neighborhoods do not read English. (Note: 
HEAT did have announcement flyers translated into Arabic and went door to 
door in the immediate neighborhoods . The next day a gentleman from the Arab 
community called and thanked us for that effort)

The issue of environmental justice was a repeated theme with noted 
environmental attorney Thomas W. Stephens saying that, The DEQ obviously has 
no intention of taking any action whatsoever to protect these communities 
from excessive pollution and health risks not faced by more affluent, 
non-minority communities." Stephens added that "this deplorable situation is 
aptly illustrated by the existing  location of medical waste incinerators.. 
in communities such as Detroit, Hamtramck and inner city Grand Rapids"

Michigan enviros were well represented with Mary Beth Doyle 
speaking for the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor,  Guy Williams of the National 
Wildlife foundation, James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council, Ed 
McAardle, Anna Holden and Lydia Ficher of the Sierra Club and Jennifer Lada 
of the Endometriosis Association. Jennifer's talk was particularly riveting 
as many residents  had spoke of health problems and many experts had 
addressed the emissions but Jennifer eloquently pulled it all together with 
the association between endometriosis and dioxins. You could see  women in 
the audience nodding with understanding.

Of course it' now up to the MDEQ.  Meanwhile the City Council, although not 
taking a final vote, has agreed to adopt coucilmember Kwik's local regs. 

I am also happy to report that the entire hearing took place under the 
watchful eye of a 15 foot  Governor Engler puppet that greeted folks at the 
front door and later, after being denied a seat in the audience "sneaked" 
into a back door and set up behind the DEQ tables providing the delightful 
image of a cartoon like 15 foot puppet looming behind the state bureaucrats! 

I would like to give special thanks to Mary Beth who arranged the puppet and 
wore a 4 foot fish while handing out great lakes fish advisories, Bob the 
singing base player that helped with our pre-hearing activities, Ed MaCardle 
who helped Mary Beth with media,  the Puppeteers. And of course everybody 
that turned out to turn up the HEAT on the medical incinerator. If I have 
omitted anybody I sincerely apologize as the evening could not have been a 
success without each of you. I also wish to thank those folks  that 
could not attend but took the time to send comments in their particular area 
of expertise.

I'll keep you posted as the state renders a decision.

Rob Cedar
HEAT-Hamtramck Environmental Action Team
1999 Trowbridge - Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 365-4722 or robc313@aol.com


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