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E-M:/ A quick report on the medical incinerator hearing in Hamtramck.
- Subject: E-M:/ A quick report on the medical incinerator hearing in Hamtramck.
- From: RobC313@aol.com
- Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 12:19:39 EDT
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: RobC313@aol.com
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
I'll keep you posted as the state renders a decision.
HEAT-Hamtramck Environmental Action Team
1999 Trowbridge - Hamtramck, MI 48212
(313) 365-4722 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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