Proponents of garbage incineration often cite the unsustainable, environmentally devastating effects of landfilling solid waste and point to the energy generation advantage incineration produces to distract inquiring citizens from the environmental effects of incineration. Unfortunately, in addition to toxins like mercury and dioxins emitted from burning solid waste, garbage incineration doesn’t even eliminate landfilling from the equation and instead fills the earth with the toxic ash waste produced from burning garbage.
Recently, 14 state legislators representing Minneapolis have signed a letter calling for Covanta to complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which will provide a comprehensive environmental evaluation of the proposed expansion of garbage incineration at HERC. Such a review hasn’t been completed in more than 20 years. Covanta will claim that the request for an EIS is burdensome, that it could take an additional 9 to 12 months, and that it could cost up to $250,000. It’s already been well over a year since they applied for the permit so 9 to 12 more months is probably fine. Covanta CEO Anthony Orlando’s annual salary of $4.7 million tells me the company is in a fiscally stable position and can afford a study that proves their garbage incineration plant in Minneapolis, Minnesota is safe for our children, air, water, and soil.
At MPIRG, we believe the solution to solid waste management has less to do with incineration or landfilling and much more to do with how we’re using resources. Better yet, how we’re reducing, reusing, and recycling these resources. A comprehensive zero waste plan must be developed and implemented for the City of Minneapolis. Until then, MPIRG stands with these state legislators and strongly encourages the Minneapolis City Council to require Covanta to complete an EIS before this project moves forward. This would be the responsible, ethical way to pursue the expansion of a facility that burns materials which emit toxic chemicals in our community.