Weigh in

Members of the public will have one last opportunity to speak their piece regarding the $100 million solid-waste incinerator planned for a mostly poor, mostly Hispanic neighborhood on the city’s southwest side.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a draft permit last week to Detroit Minergy LLC, the company contracted to build and operate the incinerator. If granted final approval by the state, the Minergy plant will replace the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s waste incinerator and burn about 500 tons of toxic-laden sludge a day from the wastewater treatment plant. Unlike the city’s incinerator, which produces only smoke and ash, the Minergy facility will also churn out glass aggregate for things such as roofing material and pavement.

A public hearing is scheduled for June 28 at 7 p.m. at the Delray United Action Council Center, 7914 W. Jefferson in Detroit.

The big question is whether the new facility will release more or less dioxin — one of the most toxic materials known to man, says Saulius Simoliunas, a chemist for 20 years at the wastewater treatment plant. Simoliunas claims the Minergy plant will release at least 100 times more dioxin into the air than the current system.

Others, such as chemical engineer and University of Toledo Professor Emeritus Dr. Gary Bennett, insist that the new plant will produce less pollution. Bennett spoke at meeting earlier this year hosted by professors from Michigan State University’s Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) and the Delray United Council. TOSC will review the permit and weigh in on the issue.

The public has until June 28 to submit written comments to the Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality Division, PO Box 30260, Lansing, MI 48909.

A copy of the proposed permit is available at the Wayne County Department of Environment, Air Quality Management Division, 640 Temple, Suite 700, Detroit or online at www.deq.state.mi.us/aqd/permits/cwerp.html.

To paraphrase an old saying, speak now or forever hold your nose.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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