About 20 protesters delivered a cardboard black coffin to the steps of City Hall yesterday, complaining that the mayor had failed to stop medical waste from outside the state from being burned at a new Hawkins Point incinerator.
"We are here today to hold a memorial service to you on your dead promises to the citizens of Curtis Bay, Brooklyn, Fairfield and Southwest Baltimore," said Mary Rosso, president of the Maryland Waste Coalition, a grass-roots environmental group in the area.
"We cannot accept anything less than the closure of this plant."
The group of protesters, which included representatives from Greenpeace and Clean Water Action, tried to take the coffin, draped with a Maryland flag, to Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's office. But they were stopped by guards, who allowed only Ms. Rosso and another member to deliver a letter. The mayor's receptionist told them he was having lunch outside the building.
The protesters want the city to take action against Medical Waste Associates, owners of the new medical incinerator, because they say importing waste is in violation of city zoning ordinances. Neighborhood residents say they fear the incinerator produces a variety of pollutants.
Mr. Schmoke has directed the city's Law Department to take the
incinerator's owners to court if necessary to stop the importing of waste, said Peter N. Marudas, Mayor Schmoke's executive assistant. But the protesters say the city has not acted, even though the incinerator's owners admit the facility is burning material from outside Maryland.
The owners say the importation of waste is legal and necessary for testing the facility at its capacity of 150 tons a day. City hospitals generate only about half that amount, said William Boucher, president of Medical Waste Associates.
Testing is expected to be completed this summer, Mr. Boucher said.
The Maryland Department of the Environment may issue an operating permit as early as today.