Nova is the PBS science and technology outlet. They came to Chester to do a report on our air pollution. Here’s what they say. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/earth/too-much-pollution/)
Today, Front Street (in Chester) is the center of a frat row of waste treatment plants, power plants, and manufacturing facilities.
They mention how the country’s largest waste incinerator sits next to a county wastewater treatment plant, which is next to a refinery, and down the road from a paper mill, with a few smaller industrial plants in between.
As cities around the world plan for clear-sky, zero-waste futures, Chester feels trapped in another era, with the surrounding area continuing to host a menagerie of waste treatment facilities, chemical manufacturers, paper mills, and power plants.
And then we learn from Nova that…
Every day, the facility burns as much as 3,510 tons of municipal waste (roughly equivalent to the weight of a naval combat ship). It’s maximum capacity is the largest of any trash incinerator in the country—most burn fewer than 1,000 tons of waste per day.
The trash we burn is over 3-times more trash than any other trash incinerator in the country (just in case you missed that line).
Chester plays host to some major polluters. Even the solicitor from the new Chester Storm Water Authority said in the local paper that the fees they collect will go toward yet another trash reclamation plant. Here’s his exact quote just in case you (or he) forgot…
…fees would be used for a variety of benefits to the city…including establishing a large trash reclamation project…
How does all this pollution get here when the EPA regulates these places?
Pollution control systems scrub the exhaust gases of some harmful pollutants before releasing it into the atmosphere. But it’s impossible to eliminate them all, and quite a bit of pollution manages to sneak through the filtration systems.
That’s why they call them pollution control systems and not pollution elimination systems.
Over the last 20 years, tighter EPA regulations and improved pollution control technology has somewhat improved air quality in Chester. But at times, many of the plants have struggled to meet the EPA’s standards.
I hope you now understand that the EPA permits pollution. They supposedly only allow just enough pollution not to hurt you. It’s only when you pollute too much that businesses get fined. But these plants regularly pollute too much, too often.
the process by which the EPA grants permits to polluters is flawed. Chester is already in violation of the national air quality standards, meaning the air is more polluted than the EPA deems acceptable. Yet the EPA doesn’t adequately take this into account when determining whether to grant a new facility a permit
In other words, the air is full of pollution but the pollution the EPA allows each facility to spew is under control most of the time. But, when you combine all the spewed pollution coming from all the different polluters, it’s a bit much. That doesn’t stop the EPA from granting a permit to a new polluter if they want to join the frat party of polluters on the waterfront.
Chester found that 60% of children tested for lead in their blood had concentrations above the Center for Disease Control’s maximum healthy level.
That number FAR EXCEEDS the number of children in Flint, MI. Stop believing lead is only found in water. It’s in the air, too.
38.5% of children in Chester have asthma.
I believe this number is conservative. Show me a Chester kid without a puffer and I’ll show you an outcast.
Activists convinced the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to revoke the permit of Thermal Pure Systems, an infectious medical waste incinerator that operated next door to the Covanta facility. Soil Remediation Services withdrew their permit application the next year because the process by which they cleaned contaminated soil would have released more pollutants into the atmosphere.
The Nova story mentioned community activists (not named Rev. Horace Strand) as the ones responsible for fighting new polluters from coming to Chester.
…community organizations can’t solve these problems entirely on their own—communities also rely on government to provide oversight. “The public has the sense that industry is so over-regulated,” she says. “In fact, I don’t believe from a health standpoint that they’re even close to regulated enough.”
…people assume that governments only allow things like incinerators to be built in places that are safe for the community, when in fact they overlook the risk they pose to an area’s poorer, minority residents.
Environmental racism is real and Chester is the poster child. Community organizations are easily out resourced when it comes to fighting corporations who make up their mind to plant themselves on our shores.
The only real solution, according to Nova, is government action. The only way you get government to listen to you and act is to vote for people who have your interest at heart.
Chester can keep voting for the popular candidate, or continue to choose not vote at all. Just expect to keep getting dumped on as a result.