Ocean City, Maryland trash is incinerated by Covanta Energy
in Chester, Pennsylvania known as the
Delaware Valley Resource Recovery Facility.

Covanta wrote us a letter regarding our video testimonial in front of the Ocean City Green Team.
Read our response to the Covanta letter here.

hear from the residents

When Go Green OC visited Covanta's trash incinerator in Chester, PA on April 28th, we were blown away by the overall smell.  Our interviews with community residents will be posted online over the next two years.  You can watch the playlist here.

Check out what The Guardian wrote in 2019.

Read what PBS.org has to say about the Delaware Valley Resource Recovery Facility

Read about angry Chester residents who want Covanta out.

Chester residents demanded that the Chester Planning Commission recommend that City Council vote "NO" on Covanta's NYC trash-by-train proposal

Chester residents demanded that the Chester Planning Commission recommend that City Council vote "NO" on Covanta's NYC trash-by-train proposal

Watch Chester community residents fight Covanta on NBC News.

Watch Chester community residents try to fight the incinerator back in 1996. 

Chester resident talks about the smell and pollution. This is where Ocean City trash is burned.

Covanta claims "In characterizing the emissions of the Delaware Valley facility, it is important to note that the facility operates well within its emissions limits (up to 97% below permitted levels), which were set to be protective of human health and the environment" Is this true?

+ In March 2009, when an EPA inspector (Ms. Horgan) asked Covanta's Gene Bonner why they don't have the pollution controls that their other plants have, Covanta responded that "it costs a lot of money" and would create "operational issues."  Read the report - Check out page 11 - last paragraph

+Go Green OC asked Covanta, "Have any specific improvements been made to the plant to reduce air emissions since 2009?  What was done, and when did that take place?"  
Covanta: They didn't have to because they were at "acceptable levels."  
Go Green OC: "Acceptable levels should be ZERO.  You cannot have an acceptable level of mercury, lead, radiation, particulate matter, and dioxins."

+ Read about Particulate Matter - "Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even get into your bloodstream." or WATCH A VIDEO about it.

+ Read a document that shows Covanta paying nearly $90,000 for the payment of fees that are assessed on all Title V air permit holders in Pennsylvania. This is a payment for the right to pollute the air, not a fine for exceeding allowable pollution levels.

+ Even when one of Chester’s many facilities meets EPA regulations for emissions, its pollution still can be harmful to human health. A number of pollutants released by these plants are known to have negative impacts on human health in any concentration. Some particular matter have "no ‘safe’ level out there to be found." Source.

+ Go Green OC asked Covanta for data regarding how many pounds annually of emissions do they emit?  
Their response was they "..don't think total emissions are an appropriate way to measure Ocean City's decision."
In other words, Ocean City shouldn't care about how big of an air polluter the incinerator is for Chester and its surroundings, and should only look at the question of how incineration compares to landfills for Ocean City's disposal needs.
We asked several times for the data and were told it was "public information."  You can find the information at the bottom of this page.

In 5 county Philly area, Covanta in Chester is #3 in overall air pollution in 2014 (National Emissions Inventory):
#2 in Mercury
#3 in Nitrogen Oxides
#3 in Sulfur Dioxides
#4 in Cadmium
#5 in Carbon Monoxide
#5 in Hydrochloric Acid
#6 in particulate matter
#6 in Green House Gases

What is really being monitored at the Waste Incineration?

Watch a video on what is being "monitored" on smoke stacks.

Watch a video comparing this incinerator to others.

In Delaware County, PA, Covanta is:
#2 overall in air pollution
#1 in Mercury
#2 in Nitrogen Oxides
#2 in Sulfur Dioxides
#2 in Cadmium
#3 in Carbon Monoxide
#3 in Nickel
#3 in Hydrochloric Acid
#3 in Chromium (VI)
#3 in PM10 and PM2.5
#4 in Arsenic
#5 in Chromium III
#6 in Lead
NOTE: The rankings come from EPA's National Emissions Inventory, which comes out every 3 years, and the latest data (which this is from) is for 2014.  It's ultimately self-reported by Covanta and other sources, and most is not based on real-time monitoring, but "best behavior" annual stack tests, or straight up modeling.

Source: http://www.zerowasteforzeroloss.org

Source: http://www.zerowasteforzeroloss.org

If Covanta was located on the eastern shore of Maryland it would be #1 for emissions and 39% of the total industrial emissions! They'd be one of the largest air polluters, ranking:
#1 in Beryllium
#1 in Cadmium (68% of total)
#1 in Carbon Monoxide (25% of total)
#1 in Chromium VI (33% of total)
#1 in Hydrochloric Acid (53% of total)
#1 in Mercury (97% of total)
#1 in Nitrogen Oxides (64% of total)
#1 in Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) (46% of total)
#1 in Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) (56% of total)
#2 in Arsenic
#2 in Nickel
#2 in Particulate Matter (PM10)
#3 in Chromium III
#8 in Lead
#9 in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

+ Covanta Lacks Basic Pollution Controls
Covanta’s incinerator in Chester uses the fewest pollution control devices of any incinerator in Pennsylvania and the fewest of any in their fleet of 39 incinerators.
•Selective Non-Catalytic Reduction to reduce the nitrogen oxides (NOx) that trigger asthma attacks.
•Carbon injection to remove additional toxic metals and dioxins.
Out of 80 commercial trash incinerators in the U.S. operating as of 2014, 59 use carbon injection and 55 use some form of NOx controls. Why does the nation’s largest one lack these protections?
Source: Energy Recovery Council's industry Directory

+ If Covanta was upheld to today's stricter standards of emissions (they opened the plant in the 90's) - they would FAIL emission tests immediately. 

+ In a 2017 life cycle analysis conducted to evaluate Washington, DC's waste options, ten different environmental measures were examined comparing Covanta's incinerator in Lorton, VA to trucking waste to four southeastern Virginia landfills that are 2-4 times as far from DC.  On a majority of the measures evaluated, incineration turned out to be worse than landfilling.  Incineration proved to be worse than landfills when it comes to global warming pollution, and pollution from nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, toxic chemical releases, acid gases, and smog.  On a 7th measure (eutrophication), they were about tied, and on three of the smallest measures of types of chemical releases, landfills proved to be worse.  (Source: See slides 7-11, 15-17, and 25-37 here.)


Mike Ewall, discusses hazardous ash coming from waste incinerators.


+ Childhood asthma hospitalization 3x the Pennsylvania Rate

Source: Analysis based on 2010 Census data and asthma data from The Asthma Program, PA Department of Health. Data provided by Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).

Source: Analysis based on 2010 Census data and asthma data from The Asthma Program, PA Department of Health. Data provided by Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4).

+ Since it started in 1991, about 1.5% of the waste burned has been from Chester. The rest of the waste burned has come from the rest of Delaware County, Philadelphia, 17 other Pennsylvania counties (as far as Pittsburgh), New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and Canada.
Source: 2014 PA Dept of Environmental Protection – Data reported by Covanta

+ Watch a video explaining health implications of waste incinerators


+ Trash incineration is NOT "waste-to-energy."  Matter cannot be turned into energy without a nuclear reaction.  Incinerators do not violate the laws of physics.  They turn trash into toxic ash and toxic air emissions.  Recycling and composting the same materials in trash would save 3-5 times as much energy as is "produced" by incinerators.  Burning these resources wastes energy by requiring that the materials be extracted and re-created.  Read more here on why the "waste-to-energy" public relations term is inappropriate for describing trash incinerators.

Watch a video that describes why "Waste to Energy" is a "Waste OF energy".

Watch Ontario fight the myth of "Waste to Energy" and explain why waste incineration is NOT the answer.



Incineration is on the decline

In recent decades, trash incinerators have been on the decline. At their peak, there were 187 commercial trash incinerators in the U.S. in 1991. Now, there are just 76, and the numbers keep falling as more and more close. No new community in the U.S. has allowed an incinerator to be built in their midst since 1995. Covanta's incinerator in Chester, PA is now 26 years old. Few trash incinerators operate beyond a 30-40 year life time without having to be massively rebuilt. The average life of all trash incinerators in recent decades (including those that closed within a year of opening) is just 14 years. The average life of the 76 currently operating trash incinerators in the U.S. is just 28 years. The average lifespan of the 26 trash incinerators that have closed since 2000 was just 21 years. Is it reasonable for Ocean City to lock in using Covanta for another decade when their available facilities are all aging and heading into retirement age?

Dr. Paul Connett talks waste incineration.

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