“Trash to Cash Rule-making”: Incinerators, Permits and Models

By: Marsha Ellis

What happens when snow-birds flock to SWFL? What is the flipside of the rosy economic boon, the busy hotels, restaurants, HOAs, roads and destinations? There’s more trash. Newcomers? Boomers? Hurricanes? Different question, same answer — more people, more storms, more trash. Blue skies? Trash. Grey skies? Much more trash. Are the consequences of all of this trash being unequally shouldered by East Lee communities?

The Covanta-Lee incinerator in Buckingham exceeded dioxin-furan emission allowances, receiving violations in January and April of 2023. After eventually “passing” six months later in June, Lee County Solid Waste reached a settlement with the FDEP and Covanta paid a $2,000 fine. Given no “right to know”, East Lee communities were unaware until the “settlement” buried in the Commissioner’s consent agenda, came to light.

Complacency about incinerator emissions, including dioxin – the world’s most toxic chemical and mercury, have led to regrettable planning practices including putting a park next door! Florida burns more trash than any other state even though factors in our environment INCREASE susceptibility to health impacts. Consequences of waste incineration both disproportionately affect neighborhoods and spread beyond — contributing to over 2,000 fish advisories statewide due to mercury bioaccumulation. In March you can give public comment through three FEDERAL RULEMAKING opportunities:

MUNICIPAL WASTE INCINERATORS: (by 3/25) proposing to end exceptions for malfunctions at municipal waste incinerators, TITLE 5 PERMITS (by 3/11) assessing federal oversight of “stationary sources of air pollution” permits and WARM v16 MODEL (by 3/15) contemplating incinerator incentives, displacing or disadvantaging other practices.  For more information, links to the rule-making and possible talking points to supplement your observations and position review the google slides at: https://rebrand.ly/ju0n2zj

To learn about solutions and alternatives to incineration for Florida communities sign up for a three-part webinar (6:30pm 2/27, 3/26, 4/23) hosted by Sierra Club detailing and endorsing Zero-Waste initiatives.



Write your Commissioners by visiting: www.actionnetwork.org/letters/local-officials-lets-talk-about-incineration

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