Burning to know: Decision day looms for Detroit incinerator

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ATTENTION: We've just learned that this meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday, June 18. The time is still 2 p.m., but the location isn't yet nailed down. Will keep you updated. For those who have been following the Detroit incinerator issue, Wednesday, June 17, is likely to be a big day. That’s when the Greater Detroit Resource Recovery Authority is to announce whether the facility’s operator will be awarded a new contract, and business will continue as usual, or if the authority will abide by last year’s City Council vote to start sending garbage to landfills in conjunction with ramping up recycling efforts. The push for recycling is supposed to happen no matter what — but critics contend that the incinerator’s need for all the trash it can get in order to produce the steam and electricity it generates is incompatible with recycling.

The GDDRA board is a quasi-governmental body, with the mayor appointing its members. While campaigning to win the job, Dave Bing said he was opposed to continuing to use the facility. Opponents — a list that includes every major environmental group in the city and the state — hope that Bing will be true to his word, and push board members to follow the landfill route.

“Mayor Bing promised a new way of doing business and this is a great opportunity for change,” Margaret Weber, of the Coalition for a New Business Model for Detroit Solid Waste, said in a press release Friday. “Mayor Bing is a businessman and can show the country that Detroit is moving to a greener, more sustainable way of doing business.”

But nothing concerning the incinerator is simple or clear-cut. For one thing, if the incinerator operator can meet or beat landfill prices in a recent set of contract bids, the city is contractually obligated to keep burning trash. And there is a fear that, behind closed doors, forces are at work trying to keep the incinerator going.

The GDRRA meeting is scheduled to be held in the Finance Center Conference Room at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center. A time for the meeting has not yet been set.

However, there is a time set for a rally planned for Tuesday, June 16. The purpose of that is to ramp up pressure on Bing to carry through with his campaign promise to move away from incineration. That event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue outside city hall.

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