The Hamtramck Medical Waste Incinerator Public Hearing was well attended with a crowd of 150 residents speaking both passionately and eloquently against the 14 year old facility. Two main themes emerged throughout the 3 hours plus of testimony with nearly everyone mentioning the sordid history of the facility while repeatedly asking why the DEQ would even consider a new permit for a facility that has never been in compliance and the owners were still in court with unresolved violations. There was also a strong outcry of Environmental Justice as folks argued that an incinerator would never be sited in wealthier white communities. One gentleman offered the novel twist of inviting Air quality Chief Vince Hellwig to move into his humble two bedroom home across the alley from the offending facility while making his decision.
Of particular note was the diversity and breadth of the speakers with representatives of the Arab, Bangladesh, Bosnian, African-American, Yemeni, communities as well as representative from local Mosques, Churches and even a member of the Hamtramck Zen community. Also on hand were four City Councilmembers plus the deputy Mayor with all vowing to use whatever powers available to the City to close the facility. Other notable elected officials included Senator Martha Scott, Representative Bill McConico's Chief of Staff, Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson and Ron Elliot from the City of Windsor, Ontario.
Environmental organizations were also well represented with members of the Sierra Club, Ecology Center, NWF, MEC, and ACCESS providing convincing expert testimony on why the permit should be denied.
Those of us that had been thru this process in the past optimistically agreed the nights testimony showed that if ever there was a case made against granting a permit the Hamtramck Incinerator was a perfect example
As expected, Hellwig was non committal saying that written comments would be welcome up to Jan 7 and that a decision would not be made until sometime afterwards.
I personally would like to thank everybody that turned out and urge those that could not to submit written comments before the Jan 7 deadline. I also, apologies if I messed mentioning any group or organization as the night would not have been such a success without the help of EVERYBODY that participated
Director, HEAT- Hamtramck Environmental Action Team
Hamtramck City Councilperson
NOTE: A few wonderful local volunteers have put together a website about the incinerator at HEATonline.org. if not immediately available check back as it is just now being updated from before the hearing.