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E-M:/ City: Incinerator pollution not real


Incinerator permit hearing draws opponents
Pollution worries residents; city says it's a safe alternative

By Hawke Fracassa / The Detroit News
		DETROIT -- Jackie Victor wants the incinerator at Russell
and Ferry to be shut down so her 17-month-old daughter Rafaella can breathe
healthier air at home. 
		   "We live a mile from the incinerator," said Victor, 37,
of Detroit. "Maybe a week after she was born, I threw open her bedroom door
and smelled the stench of this incinerator ... that (is) potentially
harmful. As her mother I 'd like to control ... the air that she breathes." 
		   Victor was among about 50 people Wednesday night
representing 11 community groups at an environmental hearing in Detroit. The
meeting was called by the state Department of Environmental Quality to
discuss whether Detroit's incinerator permit should be renewed to operate
for five more years. 
		   "I'm holding the people who are making the decision
responsible for (Rafaella's) health," said Victor, who also owns a
neighborhood bakery near the incinerator, which opened in 1988. "They have
it in their power to decide to allow emissions into our air, or to stop it.
They need to use the power responsibly." 
		   But Bob Berg, spokesman for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, said
the incinerator is safe and "meets all the requirements that apply to it"
and will continue to be used. 
		   "To accuse the plant of polluting the air is not
reality," Berg said. "As a practical matter your choice is between
incineration or taking it all to a landfill. The ash from an incinerator
requires a fraction of the landfill space that raw garbage requires." 
		   Another hearing on the permit renewal is planned for Feb.
28. A final decision is expected by April. 
		   Donele Wilkens, 42, of Detroit, who is executive director
of Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, said she and other
activists and residents want the city to recycle and use landfills instead
of burning garbage. The incinerator burns 2.2 tons of trash a day and she
claims spews carbon monoxide, lead and mercury into the air. 
		   Those solutions can happen, Wilkens said, if the DEQ
rejects the permit and if the new administration in Detroit sees the dangers
of incineration. 
		   "We recommend a full-blown curbside recycling program ...
and landfills," Wilkens said. 
		   Other suggestions from speakers included reducing the
volume of waste incinerated, banning some toxins and more internal controls
that would cut emissions, said David Holtz, a spokesman for the Sierra Club.

		   Holtz said Sierra Club data shows the incinerator puts
more than 25 tons of pollution into Detroit's air every year. 
		   Jerry Peoples, 51, of Detroit, of Community Action
Against Asthma, said the organization is studying the triggers that cause
asthma in 300 Detroiters, including 150 people who live near the
		   "We're concerned because waste incinerators are emitters
of ... air pollution that is inhaled into the lungs and causes respiratory
health problems," Peoples said. 
		   "Seventeen million Americans suffer from asthma and
Detroit ranks third in the nation in the number of African Americans with
asthma," behind Harlem, N.Y., and the Bronx, N.Y., Peoples said. "I'm
convinced we need to recycle in Detroit." 
		   Isaac Elnecave, 37, of Ann Arbor is an air policy analyst
with the Michigan Environmental Council. He also seeks to shut the
incinerator, which Detroit sold in 1991 to the Greater Detroit Resource
Recovery Authority. 
		   "(The permit) is inadequate and does not meet Clean Air
Act requirements," he charged. "Emission limits for carbon monoxide are
above what is allowed." 
		You can reach Hawke Fracassa at (313) 222-2320 or
hfracassa@detnews.com. <mailto:hfracassa@detnews.com>  

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