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Great Lakes Waste and Environmental Justice
 

Great Lakes Waste and Environmental Justice

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The Detroit trash incinerator is the symbol of environmental racism in the heart of the Great Lakes. It was conceived in the 1970s, paid for, designed and constructed in the 1980s, and has been ...

The Detroit trash incinerator is the symbol of environmental racism in the heart of the Great Lakes. It was conceived in the 1970s, paid for, designed and constructed in the 1980s, and has been operating ever since (with brief interruptions) at the rate of about 800,000 tons of trash per year, in an African-American community that is plagued by poverty, asthma and many other public health crises, unnecessarily generating nightmarish quantities of mercury, dioxins, heavy metals, particulates and other airborne toxics and odors that ultimately sink into the Great Lakes waters. This workshop will tell the story of the Detroit Trash Incinerator and explore the interrelated questions of race, class, economic development, political decision making and ecological sustainability, as they relate to the precious inland fresh water seas that have always served as the basis for human settlements in the region.

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  • Cost projections made in May 2008

Great Lakes Waste and Environmental Justice Great Lakes Waste and Environmental Justice Presentation Transcript

  • The Threat of Privatization: The structure and sordid history of the Detroit Incinerator Oct 1991 to July 2009 and beyond Brad van Guilder, Ph.D. Ecology Center 339 E Liberty St, Suite 300, Ann Arbor, MI 4750 Woodward Ave, Suite 307, Detroit, MI http://www.ecocenter.org
  • Points of Analysis
    • Cost Structure and who pays
    • Environmental Health
    • Energy – Sustainability and Efficiency
    • Alternatives – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
    • Democratic Control and Decision-Making
  • What are our Priorities?
    • Have you ever met with a public official to advocate for protection of health, quality of life or the environment?
    • Do you feel the majority of time was spent talking past one another or the official seemed insensitive to your concern?
    • Have you ever met with a representative of a private entity (such as a corporation) to advocate for protection of health, quality of life or the environment?
    • Do you feel the majority of time was spent talking past one another or the representative seemed insensitive to your concern?
  •  
  • Cost
    • Only Detroit residents were responsible for paying off the bonds.
    • For the 20 year period of the bonds, Detroit residents paid in excess of $1,000,000,000 (ONE BILLION DOLLARS) more for waste disposal than if the incinerator had not been built and all trash instead went to landfill.
  • Detroit Solid Waste Cost Scenarios
  • Environmental Health
    • Fourth Largest stationary pollution source in Wayne County (NOx).
    • Unnecessarily emits dioxins and heavy metals (mercury, lead, cadmium, etc.)
    • Emits more CO2 per MWh than Coal (USEPA).
      • 3,685 lbs per MWh (MSW)
      • 2,249 lbs per MWh (Coal)
      • http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/energy-and-you/affect/
    • Source: Epidemiology of Asthma in Wayne County, Michigan by Elizabeth Wasilevich, MPH, Asthma Epidemiologist, Bureau of Epidemiology, Michigan Department of Community Health, August 2005
  •  
  • Energy
    • BTU content of trash incinerator is primarily
      • Petroleum-based Plastics
      • Fossil Fuel ignition (heavy fuel oil or natural gas)
      • Paper and other wood products (biogenic?)
    • Federal Tax Credits for Electricity from “Resource Recovery Facility”
    • Renewable Energy Credits under state Renewable Portfolio Standard (existing only)
    • District Steam Heat
    • Internal report estimates up to 60% energy losses in steam lines.
    • Detroit Thermal has existing capacity to provide all steam using natural gas.
    • Low density of users outside of downtown.
  •  
  • Democratic Decision-Making
    • Board of GDRRA appointed by Mayor.
    • No contract review by an elected body (city council).
    • Service Contract requires payment to GDRRA as first obligation of city even before Police and Fire.
    • Service Contract grants GDRRA power to directly tax residents on property tax bill.
    • Service Contract compels the city to deliver all material collected by DPW to GDRRA.
    • As of July 1, 2009 GDRRA has no purpose that could not be filled by DPW.
  • Democratic Decision-Making
      • Sale Agreement created an “Owner-Trust” as an independent legal entity and claims to be able to compel city to deliver trash to the incinerator.
    • Shares in the “Owner-Trust” have included
      • Phillip Morris Capital Corp.
      • Aircraft Services Corp. (General Electric)
      • Energy Investors Fund
      • Covanta Energy, Inc.
      • Atlas Holdings, LLC (currently owns 100%)
  •  
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 1 Year Month Action 1984 Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority (GDRRA) created by cities of Detroit and Highland Park 1985 * City of Detroit enters into Service Contract with GDRRA until October 2021 for waste disposal 1986 * Construction Bonds issued in excess of $500,000,000 1989 Construction begins on facility 1990 Amendments to Clean Air Act create tighter emission standards for trash incinerators. * Test burns at Detroit incinerator fail emission limits (Mercury and Dioxin?). John Engler wins Governors race. Over the next 12 years his administration strongly favors private landfills with state policy and financial tools causing landfill prices to plummet and stranding the GDRRF as an oversized regional facility.
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 2 Year Month Action 1991 * Air Pollution Bonds issued by Economic Development Corp. of Detroit in amount of $171,500,000. * GDRRF sold to private trust consisting of 70% Philip Morris Capital Corp. and 30% Aircraft Services Corp. (General Electric Capital Corp.). The sale price is $634,900,000 of which the city of Detroit receives $54,000,000 to confront budget crisis. 1996 Settlement between GDRRA and MWE over facility performance. City of Detroit loses case and pays $6.5 million. 2001 2002 Air pollution permit renewed. Permit delayed by community complaints but approved by MDEQ and USEPA without changes. 2003 Detroit Thermal, subsidiary of Thermal Ventures, takes over steam distribution from DTE. MPSC requires DTE to purchase steam at above market rate from GDRRA and resell to Detroit Thermal at lower price to subsidize both GDRRA and Detroit Thermal.
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 3 Year Month Action 2005 Sept.: GDRRA board initiates rapid Request for Proposals for planning of solid waste disposal after July 1, 2009. Oct.: GDRRA selects Detroit Waste Solutions, LLC as winner of RfP, but defers awarding of contract to December 21 st meeting. Detroit Waste Solutions was formed in September 2005 as a partnership of Synagro Corp. with James Rosendall, Rayford Jackson, James Bazen, James Sype, Perry Schnuck, and James Carmichael. Dec.: On December 19 th Detroit Waste Solutions, LLC withdraws its proposal for planning as this may be a conflict of interest with being awarded the contract for actually operating Detroit’s solid waste disposal.
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 4 Year Month Action 2006 March: GDRRA board initiates new solid waste planning process with Dvirka & Bartilucci Consulting Engineers of New Jersey. July: * City of Detroit imposes $300 per household Solid Waste Fee to stem yet another budget crisis. Fall: Detroit City Council endorses creation of Environmental Task Force. GDRRA begins “stakeholder” meetings to inform consultant, but consultant never attends any of the three meetings. 2007 Jan: City Council Environmental Task Force releases City of Detroit Future Solid Waste Plan . July: GDRRA consultant releases Strategic Operating Alternatives Report .
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 5 Year Month Action 2008 Coalition of over 10 community and environmental organizations adopts the name Coalition for a New Business Model for Detroit’s Solid Waste (CNBM). April: CNBM provides Detroit City Council with plan and alternative budget to implement recycling and end use of incinerator. May: MOSES community rally sees Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams commit to curbside recycling pilot program. * GDRRA issues first version of RfP for solid waste disposal. * Detroit City Council approves plan for new business model and adopts alternate budget with $3.85 million for pilot curbside recycling program. June: * GDRRA directs Covanta to NOT pursue lease renewal with owners. GDRRA decides to NOT attempt to purchase facility. Sep: Bids received from first RfP expire.
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 6 Year Month Action 2008 Dec: * GDRRA steam contract with DTE/Detroit Thermal expires. Direct contract with Detroit Thermal negotiated with drop in revenue for GDRRA. Air pollution permit expires. EC submits FOIA request for first bids. 2009 Jan-Feb: GDRRA issues new RfP claiming to be extension of expired RfP. Denies, partially grants, fully grants and eventually fully denies FOIA request. EC threatens lawsuit of bids not released. GDRRA agrees to release on or before April 30 but does not release until May. April: GDRRA presents $23.3 million budget to Detroit City Council with no explanation as to how that money will be spent other than waste disposal. May: GDRRA releases new bids to city council the day before budget hearing. June: City council approves GDRRA budget with no details of method, structure or multi-year cost projections.
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 7 Year Month Action 2009 June 17 Waste Management opens recycling facility in Detroit. June 18 GDRRA board snubs Great Lakes Recycling and instead awards recycling materials recovery contract to Waste Management. * GDRRA board claims to pass resolution to permit sale of GE share to Covanta and allow GDRRA to purchase that share at a later date. Councilwoman Watson specifically asks whether the resolution provides for the continued use of the incinerator. Mr. Beckham and Mr. Prymack declare that it does not create a contract. During public comment Mr. Prymack claims he has never stated that a contract would be awarded at this meeting. June 19 Owners send letter to GDRRA to compel delivery of Detroit’s waste to the incinerator.
  •  
  • An Orwellian Timeline of the Detroit Municipal Trash Incinerator (Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Facility) Part 8 Year Month Action 2009 June 23 * Charles Beckham signs agreement to allow sale of GE share to Covanta. The agreement commits GDRRA to deliver Detroit’s waste to the incinerator July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010 to match GDRRA’s alternative cost to transport and dispose waste. The agreement also stipulates that if GDRRA purchases Covanta’s share anytime between January 1, 2010 and June 30, 2013 that would trigger a renegotiation of the disposal fee to “an industry standard” (likely about $75+/ton) and commit GDRRA to a 5-year contract. Kenyatta resolution demands GDRRA provide full documentation immediately for council review. June 30 Watson resolution calls for city council to seek injunction against delivery of waste for disposal at incinerator. July 1 Agreement for continued use of incinerator (undated) for one year goes into effect under the signature of John Prymack. Agreement is for a cost of $25/ton.