Burn on: Deal ties city to incinerator for 11 years

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The Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority board in a meeting Thursday obligated the city of Detroit to keep sending trash to the controversial waste-burning facility for the next 11 years.

In return, the facility’s new owners and operators, along with Detroit Edison, agreed to turn over to the city $28 million in escrow funds that have been held. However, release of the escrow funds also needs the approval of the Michigan Public Services Commission.

It is anticipated that $20 million of the escrow money would be turned over to the city initially, with the rest coming in phased payments made over an unspecified period of time.

There was remarkably little discussion at the meeting, and GDRRA board members had few questions for the lawyer who negotiated the deal before voting on the issue. Activists at the meeting decried a lack of notice, discussion and transparency surrounding the deal.

Al Jordan, director of the city’s Department of Public Works, assured the activists, who have been closely following the issue for years and who have long  advocated for shutting down the incinerator, that the deal truly is in the best interests of the city of Detroit and its taxpayers.

The deal apparently requires no further approval from the Detroit City Council — or the mayor’s office which appoints members to the board.

Look for a more detailed account of the deal and its implications in next week’s paper.

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