SECIA Environmental Coordinator on Air Regarding Hennepin Garbage Burner

posted Jul 30, 2009, 3:28 PM by Stephanie Hankerson   [ updated Aug 4, 2009, 2:34 PM ]
This week, SECIA's Environmental Coordinator Justin Eibenholzl, participated in a discussion panel on KFAI's radio show called "Truth to Tell". The topic was the Hennepin Garbage Burner (otherwise known as the HERC), and the proposal to increase the amount of garbage burned there by 21%. Other panelists were State Rep. Frank Hornstein, (DFL-60B) - Minneapolis, Darrell Gerber - Clean Water Action Program Coordinator, Nancy Hone of Neighbors Against the Burner and Minneapolis Neighbors for Clean Air. To hear the archive of the show go to KFAI's Website.

SECIA staff have researched the emissions from the HERC incinerator and has identified significant releases of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, along with pollutants like particulates and nitrogen oxides. All are detrimental to public health. The heavy metals are unsafe at any level and are the reason why the City of Minneapolis has a lead abatement program. The most significant finding has been the releases of Dioxin, the most toxic substance known to humankind. In 2002, the HERC incinerator accounted for 51.89% of all 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-Dioxin,
making the HERC the largest source of Dioxin in the State for that year (Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Environmental Air Data Access).

The SECIA board has submitted a comment letter to the Zoning and Planning Committee.  A copy of the letter is attached below.  In the letter the board recommends the following:
  • The City require Covanta Energy to prepare an EIS.
  • The City hold public meetings on the details of the proposed expansion inviting public health experts, as well as representatives from Hennepin County and Covanta Energy
  • The City investigate expansion of the current recycling program, specifically related to plastics recycling—a source of Dioxin emissions when burned.  A pilot program on Central Ave, at the Coop there, already exists.
  • The City investigates expanding organics recycling City-wide (increasing from the pilot program in the Linden Hills neighborhood)
  • The City investigate, with the help of Hennepin County, piloting a curbside Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) program to reduce heavy metals from entering the waste stream.
  • The City Office of Sustainability provides a report to the City Council of the impacts of the proposed garbage burning expansion.
  • The City investigate alternative sources of clean energy, such as wind and solar.
  • The City investigate impacts of a 5-year phase out of HERC, or a 10-year phase out.

Stephanie Hankerson,
Aug 4, 2009, 2:34 PM