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E-M:/ Medical Waster Incinerator bill gets hearing in Michigan Senate

Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>


Today, at 1:30 p.m., Senate Bill 11 will get its first hearing in the
Michigan Senate, after a few years of effort by sponsor State Senator Gary
Peters to have this bill to regulate pollution from medical waste
incinerators passed.  The hearing is in Room 810 of the Farnum Building, the
State Senate office building, and testimony is expected from a variety of
experts in the issue.  Below is a summary of the bill, prepared by Sierra

Support Stricter Medical Waste Regulation—SB 11

	Sierra Club asks you to support Senate Bill 11. This legislation, proposed
by Senator Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township), requires medical waste
incinerators in Michigan to upgrade pollution controls to better protect the
health of Michigan citizens and the state’s natural resources.

In addition to stricter regulation, SB11 requires the Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) to take public comment and report on
alternatives to incineration for the disposal of medical waste. If feasible,
prudent, and less polluting alternatives are found, DEQ must stop issuing
permits for incinerating medical waste. SB11 will regulate commercial and
hospital medical waste incinerators.

Sierra Club urges you to ask Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs
Committee members to vote YES on SB 11 and to recommend it to the full

SB11 is based on model incinerator regulations prepared by Health Care
Without Harm, an international coalition made up of 330 health, civic,
religious, labor, and environmental organizations in 33 countries. The
standards proposed are more stringent than those required by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Michigan, but are
enforceable; all can be achieved with current technology.  The discharge of
lead, mercury and other heavy metals, dioxin, acid gases, and toxins
released by medical incinerators will be greatly reduced.

Why support stricter regulation of medical waste incinerators?

-----Medical waste incinerators release large quantities of mercury, which
damages the human nervous system and pollutes lakes, rivers, and fish
throughout Michigan.

-----Medical incinerators generate and release dioxin, one of the most toxic
substances known; dioxin has been linked to cancer, birth defects, and other
harmful health effects.

-----Research has shown that rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases
are higher near incinerators in Michigan.

-----Air pollution is responsible for an estimated 60 per cent of water
pollution.  Michigan will not have clean water without clean air.

-----Safer alternatives are available.   Non-Incineration Medical Waste
Treatment Technologies, released last week by Health Care Without Harm,
evaluates a number of viable alternatives to medical waste incineration.
The report discusses non-burn methods of treating medical waste that emit
few pollutants and do not produce dioxin.

-----Southeast Michigan is most adversely affected by medical incineration
because of the concentration of hospitals and continued pollution from the
City Medical Waste Services incinerator in Hamtramck.  This commercial
incinerator has been polluting neighborhoods in Hamtramck and Detroit for
ten years.

Members of the Senate Natural Resources Committee are:
Chairman Ken Sikkema, 	800-774-1174
Mat Dunaskiss, 		888-263-1245
Harry Gast,   		800-968-9570
Gary Peters   		888-2-PETERS
Joe Young     		877-YOUNG-01

For more information on Health Care Without Harm please see their webpage at
For more information on Sierra Club’s efforts, contact Anna Holden, Sierra
Club’s Health Care Without Harm Committee Chair, at 313-331-0932 or

Anne Woiwode, Staff Director
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108

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