March 16, 2022 – CRCQL Press Conference at County Council

Chester Residents & Allies host Press Conference at Delco Council Meeting to demand NO Incineration of County trash!

March 17, 2022 – Media, PA. – Yesterday, almost 70 residents from Chester, PA and across Delaware County held a press conference and staged a die-in/sit-in before the Delaware County Council Meeting. Their point was clear: under no circumstances should the County engage in a multi-year contract with one of the largest air polluters of the region – the Covanta trash incinerator. 

Currently, Delaware County sends its waste to its largest community of color – Chester, PA, – to be burned in an incinerator that has the least amount of pollution controls possible. Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL, aka “circle”) has been protesting this incinerator for decades and fighting for the right to breathe clean air, as promised in the PA Constitution, “We have waited long enough,” said Zulene Mayfield, chairperson of CRCQL. “It is time for County Council to exercise their power, prioritize the health of its residents, and find an alternative method for its trash.”

The press conference featured 4 different speakers calling out County Council for their leadership role and need to support the shift away from sending the county’s trash to burn in Chester. They also called on County’s role with DCSWA to stop squandering our precious landfill space by giving Covanta the right to fill it up with 450,000 tons/year of incinerator ash (largely from NYC, Philly and New Jersey). 

Carol Kazeem, one of the speakers and members of CRCQL, stated. “ We are not okay with anyone burning trash in our neighborhood, in our backyards and putting our seniors and children’s lives at risk.  So I’m asking Delaware County to stop allowing the flow of the county’s waste to the incinerator in Chester, it’s not fair to our residents. We are not okay with it.”

Calling attention to the extreme health impacts of the pollution emitted from the Covanta incinerator, CRCQL staged a die-in/sit-in and gathered in silence to recognize the historical toxic pollution and forms of environmental racism that have burdened the city for decades which has a real and severe impact on the lives of Chester residents. “Delaware County Council needs to understand the weight of the decision they’re making,” said Erica Burman, a resident of Media. “This is literally people’s lives on the line.”

The County’s current contract with Covanta ends this year, and the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority (DCSWA) is considering renewing its contract with Covanta. CRCQL’s members and allies from across the county aimed to shine a light on County Council’s leadership role and their ability to instruct the DCSWA to not engage in a new 3-year contract with Covanta. 

Delaware County isn’t the only place to send its trash to Covanta; Philadelphia, New York City, and Ocean City, Maryland also send their waste there. While Delaware County’s landfill claims to be running out of space, they’re allowing it to be filled with this toxic ash and waste from other states. CRCQL urges County Council to also wield their power to stop squandering our precious county landfill space with out-of-county waste and toxic ash.

“We are asking the County Council to come up with a financial solution to cover the landfill expansion, transfer station, composting and recycling facilities and other Zero Waste solutions. We need the county to take financial responsibility for the landfill so DCSWA isn’t addicted to taking ash from the Covanta incinerator and can start using it for the county’s trash,” said Kearni Warren, member of CRCQL and Chester-resident. 

Burning Delaware County’s trash in a large community of color is environmental racism and unjust, and incineration is the most polluting way to process waste. The pollutants emitted from the Covanta incinerator contribute to asthma, cancer, strokes, and other health issues. It is unacceptable to continue using the incinerator when the harm it brings is clear.  The trash incinerator affects the air quality of all of Delaware County and beyond – not just Chester Residents. 

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