Something to Ponder

I often read the Detroit News - daily, pretty much. Anyways, this was in the paper this morning - and it got me thinking about the lesser of 2 evils: burning garbage, or landfilling garbage. you can see what this editorial has to say

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our editorials

Detroit council should set aside fears and renew contract to burn garbage

Garbage is something everyone wants to go away as quickly and cleanly in possible. For the past 20 years, Detroit has been burning most of its garbage in an incinerator that converts it to electricity and steam, useful commodities that are sold to raise revenue and reduce pollution.

It is a very efficient and environmentally friendly way to deal with an unpleasant problem. But some on the Detroit City Council, led by Councilwoman Joann Watson, want to shut down the incinerator and truck the city's garbage into landfills. Watson fears the health impact of the incinerator's smokestack discharge.

She's wrong. The Greater Detroit incinerator, operated by Covanta Energy, emits relatively small amounts of asthma-causing particles, and operates 90 percent cleaner than required by its permit. Professor Nickolas Themelis, director of the Earth and Environmental Engineering program at Columbia University, said Detroit would be making a "big mistake" if it pulled out of the incinerator. Themelis says that if Detroit stopped using energy-from-waste disposal, it would need to replace the lost energy by burning more coal. This would emit even more harmful toxins than burning garbage, and would require Detroit to use landfills to dispose of its waste. The truck traffic this would entail, traveling from the city to waste transfer stations and back, would hurt Detroit's air quality even more.

The incinerator also provides low cost steam to Detroit Thermal, steam that heats 70 percent of the buildings downtown -- more than 200 of them -- including the Fox Theatre, Detroit Medical Center and the Renaissance Center. Small businesses that rely on the cheap energy would face higher operating costs.

In response to asthma concerns, Themelis says that it "cannot be true" that the Greater Detroit incinerator is a bigger factor in asthma cases than highway traffic or industrial production. A Columbia University study of energy-from-waste facilities found the Detroit incinerator among the world's cleanest, exceeding both U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and European Union standards.

And the incinerator was recently retrofitted, leading to double-digit emission reductions of particulate matter.

Council should weigh the facts. This incinerator is the cleanest alternative to disposing of 3,000 tons of garbage a day. Continuing to burn the city's garbage is the best choice for the environment, and for taxpayers.

For those of you not in the Metro Detroit vicinity - you are so lucky to not have to listen to the messed up politics of the Detroit City Council.

Why don't they address another option - REDUCING YOUR GARBAGE!!! We throw away WAY TOO MUCH in our society. even those stupid plastic water bottles. Seriously - just get it out of the tap!! Get a dishwasher-safe bottle and keep it in the fridge if you want it cold and portable!

Ok, I'll get off of my soapbox, but this kind of thing irks me. It's lazy. As a society, we cannot simply just burn or landfill our problems - we need to address them and fix them!!

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