USA: Action to End Detroit's Wasteful Incinerator
Frontline Communities and Teamsters Demand Clean Air, Good Jobs and Justice
Detroit, Michigan, U.S., June 27, 2010 – Environmental justice advocates from across the U.S., the Teamsters Union, and neighborhood residents marched together this morning to the world’s largest waste incinerator to demand its closure. Representatives of Detroit’s pollution-impacted communities and their allies from across the country united to press the city’s Mayor for a just transition from burning waste to building resiliency in the face of ill-health, a crumbling economy, and the global climate crisis.
The action occurred during the last day of the U.S. Social Forum.
“Frontline communities in Detroit are taking a stand against the violence of pollution and poverty that burning waste, coal, and oil brings to their families,” said Sandra Turner-Handy of the Michigan Environmental Council. “Recycling is our best option to replace incineration, creating much more employment and reducing the toxic burden for our children.”
“We are demanding that Mayor Bing and the City Council protect our health and economy with zero waste alternatives that provide more jobs and a better quality of life,” said Ahmina Maxey, of East Michigan Environmental Council.
Today’s spirited march began at the Detroit Public Library, with demonstrations, music, and popular theater in parks along the way, and culminated at the municipal waste incinerator, owned by Covanta, the world’s largest incinerator company. Detroit residents spoke about the incinerator’s cost to their health and economy; allies from several states, as well as First Nations people from Canada, shared stories of the burdens of pollution and their efforts to win clean energy and good jobs. At an elementary school next to the incinerator, students, parents and protestors planted fruit trees and flowers.
Detroit’s children suffer asthma rates three times the national average . The municipal incinerator is a major contributor to these devastating health impacts. Meanwhile, the recycling rate in the city is less than a third the national average.
City Councilwoman Joanne Watson linked the health problems of pollution to racism. “There is absolutely no level of toxicity that’s acceptable,” she said, and urged “Zero tolerance for poison and contamination in our communities.”
“In Detroit, hundreds of local BP-style disasters occur every day,” said Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program. “The impact is immense, and entirely avoidable.”
More than 90% of materials disposed of in incinerators and landfills can be reused, recycled and/or composted, creating both jobs and community resilience.  Incinerators emit 30% more CO2 per unit of electricity than coal-fired power plants, adding significantly to global warming.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union turned out their members in support of local Environmental Justice concerns, and stated their interest in creating local, family-supporting jobs through a transition from incineration to recycling.
“The facts are clear,” said Michael Martin of the Michigan Teamsters. “Recycling creates six to ten times more jobs than incinerating or land-filling. We support a comprehensive recycling program in Detroit, and we look forward to working with Mayor Bing, the City Council, the Zero Waste Detroit coalition, and our elected representatives in achieving this goal.” 
For a list of all groups involved see Note 
Ahmina Maxey, East MI Environmental Action Council: +1.313.332.5389
Sandra Turner-Handy, MI Environmental Council: +1.313.926.9811
Margaret Weber, Zero Waste Detroit: +1.313.938.1133
Ananda Lee Tan, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives: +1.415.374.0615
Celia Petty, Teamsters Union: +1.202.624.8719, +1. 202.437.1093
For photographs of the action please go to:
Contact Orin Langelle for high-resolution press photos +1.802.578.6980