For Immediate Release: January 26, 2005
Rob Cedar, Hamtramck City Council
Residents Applaud MDEQ Closing of Hamtramck Incinerator
Human Health is Higher Priority than Profit
Hamtramck, MI- January 26 – The voices and the needs of the people who breathe air in and around Hamtramck were acknowledged when the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) effectively sealed the fate of the Hamtramck medical waste. Citing the “failure to perform required preventative maintenance activities and failure to complete maintenance records” the MDEQ denied Michigan Waste Services renewal of the permit to operate the incinerator. Rob Cedar of the Hamtramck City Council was excited about the victory for the community and noted there is still work to be done.
“We’re grateful that the MDEQ has made people’s health the top priority,” said Rob Cedar, Hamtramck City Council Member. “The next meeting of the Hamtramck Environmental Action Team (HEAT) will definitely be a happy one as we prepare for the work ahead. “
HEAT will be meeting Thursday, January 27th at 7:00 at the People’s Community Services, 8625 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck. Besides savoring their victory for cleaner air, the group will be preparing for a new round of MDEQ public hearings.
The MDEQ will be seeking public input on the current permit for Michigan Waste Services to burn medical waste.
This is a major victory for clean air and everybody that worked to deny this permit. It's only the first step to completely closing this facility. Michigan Waste Services will still want to operate the incinerator under the old permit and they are still processing waste thru the autoclave that was illegally installed.
“The MDEQ is being very responsible by taking a good look at the current permit that allows the incinerator to put waste into the air,” said Ed McCardle of the Sierra Club. “We welcome the chance for more public input on the quality of the air we breathe.”
Sierra Club, Ecology Center, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services and Community Action Against Asthma were all part of the coalition of groups and individuals lead by HEAT that opposed the incinerator.
The communities affected by the incinerator largely consist of people of color and people with low incomes. The Hamtramck medical waste incinerator is also but a few miles from the Detroit trash incinerator, the largest in the world. Thus, supporters of environmental justice also supported the decision not to re-permit the facility.
“The MDEQ should be applauded for breaking the trend of environmental racism and supporting environmental justice,” said Brad van Guilder of the Ecology Center. “The folks, in these areas are already overburdened with pollution.”
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Kim D. Hunter
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
2727 Second Ave. #318
Detroit, MI 48201