I keep hearing how sad and disgusting it is that I keep using Covanta for my political advantage. I’m not even a politician. In my view, Chester politicians are using Covanta to their disadvantage.

Today’s Delaware County Daily Times reports on a grass roots led coalition that are opponents of the Covanta incinerator and planning a caravan and march from Chester City Hall to the trash incinerator to express their concerns that pollution from the stack is leading to asthma, cancer and other health issues next Saturday. I expect there will be at least 100 people participating in that rally. 

Will Chester politicians stand opposed to these people, many of whom will be coming in from outside of Chester as advocates for environmental justice for Chester residents and in support of the overall improvement of air quality in Delaware County?

I’m also curious how many Delaware County politicians will stand behind Chester City politicians in support during this tug-of-war battle between the trash burning advocates and opponents.

Chester City politicians are well known for contacting Philadelphia and many municipalities in Delaware County to encourage them to continue to send their trash to Chester to burn. Already, two municipalities, Swarthmore and Media, have gone against Chester City government’s wishes and voted in favor of not sending their trash here. 

Despite being home to only 8% of the county’s population, Chester City currently burns more than 67% of the entire county’s waste while residents continue to complain of constant headaches, ear infections, eye irritations, bronchitis, asthma, and fatigue. This is especially true for residents who have lived in Chester for more than five years. Covanta isn’t the only polluter in Chester and if we were to combine and accumulate the effects of the pollution generated by all the facilities on Chester’s waterfront, the scope of the problem gets much worse. 

A few of the same politicians who support Covanta today didn’t support the facility in the 90s. They were new to politics back then and took bold and drastic measures to show support to the residents fighting against bringing hundreds of trucks full of trash to Chester for burning. I guess I’m a lot like they were as a new person to politics. I also support the residents fighting against bringing hundreds of trucks full of trash to burn in Chester and the problems it brings. 

After several decades of these same political people representing the people of Chester, the incinerator somehow gets flipped to becoming a friendly ally that can do no wrong, even though they’re labeled as the worst polluter in Delaware County. I’ll never get the chance to be in government for decades so I expect to keep fighting on behalf of the citizen’s health and wellness if I get a chance to serve Chester. 

The current administration often blames the situation Chester finds itself in on failures and bad decisions made by past administrations. Somehow, despite the trash incinerator being one of the biggest political decisions in Chester’s history made by a past administration (mostly county government), the current administration fully supports the incinerator and what it does for Chester. 

It really comes down to what side of history you want to be on. Chester City government is unwavering in their support of one of the nation’s largest trash incinerators continuing to languish on the shores of the Delaware River without any consideration of alternatives. It’s becoming increasingly obvious there’s a movement in neighboring municipalities that it’s time to look at alternatives to sending all the trash to the poor people of Chester.  

As I see it, Chester City government doesn’t have any partners who will stand with them and make the case that the large group of racial minorities living in Chester should forever have high exposure to industrial pollution forced upon them from outside their community. 

To me, it puts Chester City government at a political disadvantage.

But, if I must continue to be labeled as the guy using Covanta for my political advantage, my hope is that it’s because I’ll consistently be the politician fighting to improve health outcome of the citizens of Chester. 

I’ve heard people say I don’t have all the facts. Yet, these three facts I know for sure: 1) No one would show up for a rally in support of the incinerator; and 2) Don’t nobody in their right mind want a great big trash incinerator in their home town; and 3) Politicians may have brought Covanta to Chester but it won’t be politicians alone that will take it out.

#FactnotFiction #BantheBurn