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E-M:/ Henry Ford Incinerator Fails Stack Test

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Tracey Easthope -------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sierra Club Southeast Michigan Group
Press Release

Wednesday, September 8, 1999
Anna Holden, Sierra Club, 313-331-0932
Donele Wilkins, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, 313-821-1064

Henry Ford Hospital Incinerator Fails Emissions Test
Environmentalists Call on the Hospital to Switch to Alternatives

For Immediate Release

Detroit. Environmentalists called on Henry Ford Hospital to switch to alternatives to incineration after the Hospital failed a recent test for heavy metals emitted from their incinerator. According to data recently released by the Hospital, the incinerator failed to meet its permit limit for cadmium, a heavy metal which may cause cancer and birth defects. The tests, required under a legal order to resolve past violations of the hospital's permit, were undertaken to test new equipment installed to reduce pollutants from the incinerator.

The cadmium measured coming out of the Henry Ford stack during the test was twice as high as the new rules allow, and more than 400 times higher than what the best incinerators in the country are achieving. The incinerator was recently required to upgrade because of past violations, and new federal rules which require hospital incinerators to reduce the air pollutants they emit. "This is why the Sierra Club and other community and environmental groups protested the Hospital's decision to continue burning its trash," stated Anna Holden, Chair of the Southeast Michigan Sierra Club. "Emissions from incinerators are unpredictable, depending on what's thrown in the trash. Wayne County should take immediate action to shut down the facility pending potential enforcement. "

"Detroit residents already bear too great a burden from pollution. Hospitals like Henry Ford should do everything possible to protect the health of the community, instead of adding to the burden. That's why its important that Henry Ford Hospital move in the right direction to better manage their waste and shut down their incinerator," said Donele Wilkins, Executive Director of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice.

While the new pollution limits are a big improvement over previous permits, they fall far short of what the best performing facilities in the country are already achieving. For instance, the dioxin limit for Henry Ford's incinerator is 84 times higher than what the best performing incinerators in the country are already achieving, and the lead limit is 151 times higher than the best performing facilities. Alternative technologies generally release less pollutants than the best controlled incinerators.

The test results just released are the public's first look at the performance of the new equipment. "The test results demonstrate that Henry Ford needs to go back to the drawing board. They need a comprehensive plan to reduce their waste stream and the hazardous materials they use, and they need to reconsider alternatives to incineration that are less polluting," said Tracey Easthope, MPH, of the Ecology Center. "More than a thousand hospitals and health care facilities across the country already use alternatives to incineration."

A number of hospitals in Michigan have recently announced they will shut down their incinerator including the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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Tracey Easthope, MPH
Director, Environmental Health Project
Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
P 734-663-2400 x 109
F 734-663-2414

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