A medical waste incinerator in Hawkins Point was to get its final state approval to operate today, despite a last-ditch appeal from some South Baltimore residents to Mayor Kurt Schmoke to shut down the $26 million facility.
George Ferreri, air management administrator for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said that he planned to issue an operating permit to Medical Waste Associates because the local group of investors had successfully completed testing of its incinerator, which can burn up to 150 tons of refuse a day.
About 15 people representing Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Fairfield and parts of Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties near the incinerator staged a brief protest in front of City Hall yesterday.
Bearing a flag-draped coffin and chanting, "Schmoke's promises up in smoke!", the protesters delivered a letter to the mayor's office calling on him to prevent the facility's start-up because of their concerns about pollution and contamination from it.
Mary Rosso, president of the Maryland Waste Coalition, complained that the incinerator was still accepting hospital refuse from out of state, despite a city ordinance prohibiting non-local waste.
Schmoke did not meet with the protesters, but Peter Marudas, a mayoral aide, said that city officials plan to continue efforts to shut down the facility for allegedly violating the zoning ordinance barring out-of-state waste. The case is to be heard by the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals.
Meanwhile, William Boucher, president of Medical Waste Associates, said he is negotiating to sell steam generated by the incinerator to one or more industries that might locate nearby. Profits from the $800,000 worth of steam that can be produced will be shared with the hospitals that send medical waste there for disposal, he said.
Boucher denied a claim made by incinerator opponents that the facility is up for sale. He said he has been approached by several parties wanting to buy it, but the investors have no intention of selling.