BALTIMORE — The sky is now the limit for BRESCO, a facility dubbed the worst polluter in Baltimore that sends more than 2,200 tons of emissions into the air each day.
Mike Ewall is the founder and director of the Energy Justice Network.
"Shutting it down, just in terms of the nitrogen oxides for the asthma attacks, is like taking half the cars or half the trucks off the roads of the city," said Ewall.
The argument to clamp down on BRESCO, also known as Wheelabrator Baltimore, and the Curtis Bay Medical Waste incinerator convinced City Councilman Ed Reisinger to sponsor a measure forcing both to meet tough new standards to cut down on emissions or else.
"It upsets me that all that pollution is going in communities like Westport, Cherry Hill, Lakeland, and it depends on how the wind blows,” said Reisinger, “It's going over in South Baltimore. It goes north. It goes east. It goes west, but people can't see that."
Despite push back from Wheelabrator and a campaign to trash the ordinance, the council passed the measure, and Mayor Catherine Pugh has now made it official.
"We're not just burning for Baltimore,” said Pugh, “We're burning for Anne Arundel. We're burning for Baltimore County. We're burning trash for surrounding jurisdictions and people want to complain about whether we'll have enough landfills to be able to do this."
The cost for clean air, should the incinerators shut down, is not lost upon City Hall. Estimates from Public Works project that lost payments from the companies, a new transfer station for trash, and the price of shipping it elsewhere could cost anywhere from $37-59 million per year, but city leaders say they're no longer willing to allow their citizens to suffer the public health costs that come with being one of the most polluted cities in the country.
The city is also lobbying state lawmakers to pull back tax credits given to waste incinerators as part of a green energy program.