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Burn on

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It’s not a done deal, but Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is poised to grant Detroit’s municipal incinerator a new operating permit. Lillian Woolley, supervisor of the Air Quality Division for southeast Michigan, says a final decision should be made next month. The incinerator, which burns all residential garbage collected in Detroit, meets state and federal air pollution limits on a regular basis and has a “good compliance program,” Woolley says.

Residents in the area near Detroit’s Cultural Center have an entirely different take, and are stupefied that they must breathe even the minute amounts of cancer-causing chemicals that leave the incinerator’s stacks on a daily basis. Residents and environmentalists mobilized to fight the incinerator’s permit and lodged a series of written complaints that has stalled the permit until now. The new permit, required by federal law for all “major” sources of air pollution, will be renewable every five years and will consolidate the incinerator’s old permits, Woolley says. The permit program will require additional self-monitoring and allow more oversight by the state, she adds. The trash burner falls under the federal permit program because it is one of 33 major sources of air pollution in Wayne County and one of 512 in the state. So if the incinerator is to be shut down in favor of — gasp — such newfangled ideas as recycling and modern landfilling (which is far cheaper), it’ll be up to the city government to make it happen.

Don’t hold your breath. Wait … Oh, never mind.

Lisa M. Collins is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail lcollins@metrotimes.com

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