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8/16/11 letter from Clean Water Action to Andres A. Alonso re Energy Answers incinerator in Fairfield



Dr. Andrés A. Alonso, Ed. D., CEO
Baltimore Public School Department
200 E. North Avenue
Room 405
Baltimore MD 21202

Dear CEO Alonzo,

This letter is to inform you of a project and facility planned for construction in the City of Baltimore that could be a significant source of toxic emissions affecting the communities of Curtis Bay and Brooklyn.

The project that is of concern is the Energy Answers International, Inc., (now Energy Answers Baltimore, LLC) (EA) a municipal and industrial solid waste incinerator, which has been permitted for construction in Fairfield, Baltimore City. While generating only a small amount of electricity (i.e. at best 160 MW), EA intends to burn at least 4,000 tons per day of a wide variety of waste at its incinerator. The 4,000 tons of waste will be shipped into the community daily from yet unspecified municipalities or states and will be made up of tires, automobile shredder residue (i.e. vinyl, plastic and metal), wood waste and municipal waste.

A settlement agreement entered into on July 23, 2010 by the Maryland Department of the Environment (“MDE”), the Power Plant Research Project (“PPRP”) of the Department of Natural Resources, and Energy Answers exempts the Energy Answers incinerator from complying with Md. Code Ann., Envir. § 9-204(k)(1), which states that a municipal solid waste incinerator may not be built within 1 mile of any public or private elementary or secondary school. There are four public schools and several parochial schools in the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay neighborhoods, and two public schools (Curtis Bay Elementary School and Benjamin Franklin Middle School) within one mile of the Energy Answers property boundary.

Although the state has taken steps to limit emissions from the incinerator, they are nevertheless likely to be substantial. Absent additional research, we are unable to predict what impact these emissions might have on the health of children in surrounding schools and neighborhoods, but wanted to share what we do know.

The Public Service Commission’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Need (CPCN) for the Energy Answers incinerator would authorize EA to emit 240 pounds of mercury each year, as much as is currently emitted by large coal-fired plants in the state. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and the primary risk to children and nursing mothers comes from consumption of contaminated fish. EA’s mercury emissions would contribute to the deposition from multiple sources throughout the Baltimore region.

EPA has established new Clean Air Act standards to protect the public from short term exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, nausea, shortness of breath, respiratory problems, reduced oxygenation of body tissues, and a buildup of fluid in the lungs. EA has failed to submit modeling showing that the incinerator can meet the new ambient air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide.

The EA incinerator may have other significant health and environmental impacts on an already environmentally stressed community overburdened with toxic air pollution. According to the U.S. EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, existing facilities in the Curtis Bay, Brooklyn, and Hawkins Point neighborhoods emitted over 13.5 million pounds of hazardous air pollutants in 2009 alone. Nearby facilities report releasing 1743 tons of particulate matter (PM10), which is approximately a third of the amount emitted by the entire state. These numbers will be reduced significantly because pollution reduction technology has been installed at the Fort Smallwood complex. However, improvements in air quality should not be reduced or offset by siting additional sources of air pollution in this community. The Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, and Hawkins Point communities have one of the highest death rates from chronic lower respiratory disease in Baltimore City, ranking 48 out of 55 neighborhoods.

The Energy Answers incinerator will add to existing pollution levels and produce ash and gas that contain a number of pollutants. Specifically, Energy Answers’ CPCN allows it to emit up to 147 tons of filterable particulates (very fine dust particles that cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases), 601 tons of nitrogen oxide, 446 tons of sulfur dioxide, 265 tons of municipal waste combustor acid gases, 1,000 pounds of lead and 140 pounds of cadmium. Some of these pollutants are known carcinogens and are also linked to other adverse health impacts. Negative health impacts linked with incinerator pollution include asthma, bronchitis, developmental delays, and nerve damage. In one study, the child cancer/leukemia risks of children living within 3 miles of incinerator sites were doubled over a 27-year study period.

We appreciate that it can be challenging to prove that exposure to pollutants has caused cancer or respiratory ailments in a specific household or neighborhood, as there are other factors to consider (e.g., diet), monitoring data is limited, and some diseases only materialize over time. But these pollutants are generally considered to increase risk, and it is reasonable to consider their cumulative impact when siting new sources.

In addition to waiving a state law that exists to protect children’s health, conditions of the PSC’s approval and the MDE settlement agreement do not comply with the Clean Air Act. For example, the construction permit is not enforceable by the federal government nor by citizens as required by law, does not require EA to obtain a refuse disposal permit, fails to assess whether emissions from the incinerator will violate new air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide, does not include sufficient monitoring, does not set limits on the quantity of each type of waste

burned, and fails to account for the cumulative impacts of heavy diesel transport trucks (approx.230-647 trips per day, 86,000 trips a year) on air quality and children’s health.

All industrial facilities—regardless of what neighborhood they are located in—should have to comply with all environmental and public health laws. Other Maryland incinerators that burn municipal solid waste to generate electricity were required to obtain a refuse disposal permit and comply with statutory rules regarding distance from schools.

There is no doubt that children in Curtis Bay and Brooklyn could suffer harm if this incinerator’s construction and operation are allowed to go forward. We would like to schedule a meeting with you to discuss this issue in greater detail. Please contact Andy Galli at 410-235-8808 or agalli@cleanwater.org to schedule such a meeting.


Andy Galli Leah Kelly Diana Dascalu-Joffe
MD Program Coordinator Attorney* Staff Attorney/CFO
Clean Water Action Environmental Integrity Chesapeake Climate Action
711 W. 40th Street, Suite 209 Project Network
Baltimore, MD 21231 1 Thomas Circle, Suite 900 6839 Eastern Ave.
410.235.8808 Washington, DC 20005 Takoma Park, MD 20912
202.263.4448 240 396-1984
*Licensed in FL, NY and MA

Cc: Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young
Neil E. Duke, Chairman – Baltimore School Committee
Jerrelle Francois, Vice-Chair- Baltimore School Committee
Kay Romero, President- Maryland PTA
Michelle V. Green-Daniels, Vice Chair – Parent and Community Advisory Board
Martha Goodman – Parent and Community Advisory Board
Councilman Edward Reisinger – District 10
Barbara J. Avery, Principal – Curtis Bay Elementary/Middle School
Christopher Battaglia, Principal – Benjamin Franklin Highschool & Masonville Cove Academy
Ann Custis, Principal – Bay-Brook Elementary School
Maisha Gillins, Principal – Brooklyn Park Christian Academy
Gladys Graham, CEO – The Children’s Guild School
Judy Chung O’Brien, President – Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance
Ellyn Peterson Cochran, Executive Assistant to the CEO
Sarah K. McLean, Special Assistant to the CEO