City officials have filed suit to stop a South Baltimore medical waste incinerator from operating until it has received all of its municipal permits.
The suit is one of several that are being waged between the city government and Medical Waste Associates, which built a $26 million furnace in the 3200 block of Hawkins Point Road, over whether the company can continue burning out-of-state medical waste.
The latest suit was filed Friday in Baltimore Circuit Court and asks the court to enjoin the company from operating the furnace until it gets its occupancy permit and its certificate of use from the city government. It has been operating under a state permit.
The city has refused to issue the local permits because it says the company has been violating the 1989 city ordinance that limited the incinerator to burning waste from hospitals in the city and Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Harford counties.
MWA has been "receiving and burning medical waste from outside the geographical area described in the ordinance," the city alleged.
"We haven't been notified of the latest suit," said William Boucher 3rd, MWA's chairman, who admits the company has been accepting out-of-state medical waste because the local hospitals have not generated enough waste to test the Hawkins Point plant.
The plant, which can burn as much as 150 tons of medical waste daily, has been burning up to 105 tons a day since starting up last winter. However, this amount is not enough to meet a requirement set by its lenders that the incinerator operate at capacity -- burning 150 tons daily -- for 14 days.
Part of the problem is that the local hospitals are generating about 27 percent less waste than was estimated, Without the out-of-state waste, Mr. Boucher said, the incinerator will never be able to be tested to the satisfaction of its lenders and probably would not operate profitably.
MWA has taken the city to federal court, arguing that the ordinance setting geographic boundaries is an unconstitutional restraint of trade.