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PSR-Chesapeake Helps Nix Lead-emitting Incinerator Planned for Baltimore

Posted by Suyeon Yang and Barbara Gottlieb on March 28, 2016

PSR-Chesapeake, environmental advocates and community groups in Baltimore successfully pressured the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to declare invalid the permit for a trash-to-energy incinerator proposed for construction in Baltimore.

The $1 billion electricity generation facility planned for South Baltimore would have emitted significant emissions of lead into the atmosphere, as well as other health-damaging heavy metals. The permit was revoked because too much time had elapsed since construction began.

PSR and other groups had asked the state to enforce a provision of the permit that prohibits a halt in construction for a period of eighteen months or more. Officials of the MDE declared the permit expired on May 1, 2015 because construction activity of the facility stopped in October 2013.

PSR-Chesapeake had also sent multiple letters to the Secretary of MDE calling for a moratorium on the facility until the state developed and implemented--with community and stakeholder input--a lead monitoring plan.

"It's really excellent news for public health reasons," said Dr. Gwen Dubois, a board member PSR-Chesapeake. "It's such an environmental justice issue."

The proposed facility would have emitted 1,000 pounds of lead, 240 pounds of mercury, and quantities of dioxin and nitrogen oxides each year through its smokestacks. Those heavy metals would have substantially harmed the health of people living near the facility site, potentially diminishing IQ, causing a range of neurobehavioral problems, and increasing the risk of respiratory illness, heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer. Infants and children are most vulnerable to air pollution of these metals.

The facility site is less than a mile from two public schools and located in the Curtis Bay community, already the most polluted community in the state.

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