New Bill Calls For Moratorium On MSW Incinerators

A bill that would place a moratorium on constructing new solid waste incinerators until 1997, and put strict regulations on their construction and use after that date, now has 55 co-sponsors in the House.

The Pollution Prevention and Incineration Alternatives Act of 1993, (H.R. 2488), introduced by Rep. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., would place limits on the permitting authorities of state and local governments, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill states that after December 31, 1996, no government entity may issue a permit or other prior approval for a waste combustor unless the applicant:

* Makes annual analyses of the composition of the solid waste stream generated within the facility service area each year;

* Requires that waste generators served by the facility divert by recycling or waste reduction the following percentages of materials beginning in the year 2000: glass, 65 percent; newspapers, 65 percent; other paper, 65 percent; metals, 80 percent; plastic containers, 50 percent; yard waste, 90 percent; and food waste, 10 percent;

* Demonstrates that the facility will not lower waste diversion rates or hinder diversion efforts;

* Proves that the remaining solid waste cannot be managed through source reduction, reuse or recycling;

* Shows that the facility will not contaminate the environment or expose people to: inhalation of air emissions or ash particles contaminated with emissions or ash; ingestion of food contaminated by emissions or ash; ingestion of potable water that is contaminated by ash leachate; or dermal contact with emissions or ash;

* Demonstrates that the incinerator is not located in a nonattainment area under the Clean Air Act;

* Ensures that the facility will not negatively affect property values; and

* Proves that the facility will be less costly than reducing or recycling waste.

A particularly onerous provision in the bill would force incinerator permit applicants to provide concerned local community groups with technical assistance grants of at least $50,000. The grant would have to be renewed every six months until the facility is sited.

Other provisions of the bill require the permit applicant to show its compliance with all federal and state environmental and public health statutes. The operator must pay all outstanding fines or penalties for violations of environmental laws and must submit a disclosure statement.