Chanting "Hey, hey; ho, ho; incinerator has got to go," and unfurling a banner which read "Draw The Line; No Incinerator; Fight CLimate Change," a group of citizens gathered at the McKinney Industrial Park Saturday morning to protest the proposed waste to energy facility for Frederick County.
The demonstration was local, but it was driven by national organizations such as 350.org, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which are concerned about the impact incineration has on climate change.
"It's the most environmentally irresponsible approach we could take," says former county commissioner Kai Hagen, who was at the rally. "There are public health concerns and it's an incredibly risky financial endeavor that was never really justified. The economic model used to justify it was indefensible then, and it's even more indefensible now."
Hagen was on the Board of County Commissioners when approval was given to go ahead with the project. He voted in opposition.
Many of the protesters were concerned about the air pollution this facility would produce. A handout from the No Incinerator Alliance said trash incineration creates more carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour than any other form of electricity generation, including coal. "The incinerator, particularly, will create carbon dioxide, not just from the burning of the tires and the paper and rubber and the plastics. But also because it destroys materials like paper and plastic, that if they're recycled, would use a lot less energy then they produced if they're burned," says Ellis Burruss, who attended the rally.
The Current Board of Frederick County Commissioners is pursuing the construction of the incinerator, which would burn trash and generate electricity. The facility, to be located at the McKinney Industrial Park, is expected to burn about 1,500 tons of rubbish per day. It's projected to cost $500-million to construct. The Maryland Department of the Environment, which would approve the project and issue permits, held a hearing in Frederick County earlier this year on the facility. No decision has come yet from MDE officials.
It started out as a Frederick and Carroll County project, but the Carroll County Commissioners are looking at pulling out.
The protesters said there are alternatives to incineration. "Recycle, reuse, restore, and also from the consumer end, look for things that are going to last, not something you're going to throw away in two weeks," says Kathryn Ruud, who helped organize the event.
Patrice Gallagher with the No Incinerator Alliance, said manufacturers "can retool in the broader economy to be making things that don't necessarily have to be trashed when they're finished. And there are other nations that are already doing this."
Burruss says the county needs to embrace recycling. "Recycle it, separate it and sell it," he says. "The recycling industry, a few years ago, was nothing but a few junkyards around the country, but now it's a multi-billion-dollar commodities industry. We got to get into that. We're doing good, but we could do better," says Burruss.
The final decision as to whether this facility will be built is in the hands of MDE, but opponents shouldn't lose hope, says Hagen. "A lot of people are assuming, and have assumed, it's a 'done deal.' They know it was approved by the last board. They know it's been supported by the current board. They hear that the permits are close to being in hand. They think it's a 'done deal.' Part of what were trying to do is say 'you know, really, it's not.' There's a lot of reasons why it should never get built, and also why it won't ever get built," he says.