Jan 8, 2018
Baltimore has a so-called “trash to energy” program. Called “Wheel-a-brator,” it was set up to solve the landfill problem. And it’s true that turning trash into energy could be a solution for all the waste created in human society, since landfills cannot be used forever, and have their own pollutants and poisons seeping out. And technology certainly exists to make the trash-to-energy process really “green,” by treating pollutants before they enter the air or water. Recycling is also possible, allowing trash to burn more completely, with less pollution, and by-products that could be sold after the trash is burned.
Instead, Baltimore’s Wheel-a-brator pollutes more than any other single source. It puts out more than 80% of the sulfur dioxide and more than 60% of the nitrogen oxide in Baltimore’s air. It emits a ton of carbon dioxide for every ton of trash it burns. It also emits such poisons as lead, mercury and hydrochloric acid. And these pollutants make it harder for those with asthma to breathe. The plant is located near four of the poorer districts in Baltimore: Cherry Hill, Curtis Bay, Westover and Brooklyn.
This horror is being paid for by public officials. The city pays Wheel-a-brator to take 160,000 tons of Baltimore trash each year and many more tons from elsewhere. The state also subsidizes the Wheel-a-brator. Maryland legislators, including Baltimore’s current mayor, agreed in 2011 to give a subsidy to all plants that burned trash, by classifying them as “green energy.”
It’s possible to create the energy society needs and get rid of pollutants without doing harm to human beings. The means to do it already exists.
But corporations make money off society’s need for energy. And public officials subsidize them in their recklessly dangerous drive for profit.