Water Blog

News, notes and thoughts from Blue Water Baltimore.

Why the Incinerator in Curtis Bay is Bad for Curtis Bay and our Harbor

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Curtis Bay, a community in south Baltimore, is home to more than seven thousand residents.

Soon, it could also be home to a plant producing carcinogenic emissions from burning as much as 4,000 tons of shredded tires, vinyl, construction debris and other waste per day.  All within a mile of two public elementary and high schools.

But students at Benjamin Franklin High School have rallied against this plant and are organizing the Baltimore community to defeat this terrible project.

They need your help!

The students have organized a demonstration and march on Tuesday, December 10th from their school to the site of the proposed incinerator.

If you join them, these students could succeed in protecting their community from this pollution.

These students who comprise a self-described “human rights committee” are not just that. They are watershed stewards and community heroes.

The students have taken it upon themselves to face off against the highest office in our state not only for the protection of their own community but for the health of Baltimore’s families and waterways alike.

Stop the Incinerator! Fight for Fair Development!

Even though state law prevents construction of trash-burning incinerators less than one mile from schools, the Maryland Department of the Environment has circumvented this restriction by classifying the plant for energy production instead of as an incinerator.

The incinerator has the backing of Governor Martin O’Malley as well as the committed purchasing power of surrounding counties and Baltimore City’s own public school system.

Alternative and renewable sources of energy are important, but waste-to-energy incinerators of this type are not actually “green” but rather dressed it up in green.

Plants like these release more pollution than coal-burning power plants in Maryland, as much as 5 times the amount of mercury, and 18 times the amount of lead.

The proposed Curtis Bay facility is expected to produce hundreds of pounds of mercury and lead emissions each year – mercury and lead that will be breathed by young students in Curtis Bay, and mercury and lead that will further contaminate the already contaminated adjacent Patapsco River.

Emissions of these heavy metals and other toxic compounds will only serve to multiply the high rate of cancer, cardiac, respiratory and neurological diseases that already burden many of Baltimore’s communities.

Residents of Curtis Bay already occupy the most polluted zip code in the ENTIRE NATION according to EPA’s toxic pollution emissions inventory in 2007 and 2008 and currently bear the brunt of 37% of the total toxic air emissions in the entire state – all in one small zip code.

Being first in the nation for having the most toxic air pollution is not a distinction that any community, nor any city for that matter, should be silent about.

And toxic mercury, lead and other carcinogenic emissions from burning tires and vinyl will be blown through and land in other Baltimore neighborhoods and adjoining areas – Federal Hill, Canton, Glen Burnie.

The mercury will find its way into the flesh of young rockfish that are caught in the greater Patapsco and Bay and later end up on the dinner plate of recreational fishermen. Lead will be deposited on homes and in school yards.

Despite the backing of state officials and the dead silence of local officials, we have an opportunity to stop this ill-conceived project in its tracks.

I’m asking you to speak up, not just for Curtis Bay but for all of Baltimore: Free Your Voice.

Please march to stop the incinerator, Tuesday December 10th at 3pm at Benjamin Franklin High School, 1201 Cambria Street, Baltimore MD 21225.

Join the students’ Facebook event now and share it with your friends.  Then show your support by joining them in person on Tuesday.