Covanta/Marion Incinerator

Posted 11/2019

Don’t greenwash trash!

350 Salem OR is working with other environmental and health organizations in the Clean Air Now Coalition (CAN) to shut down the Covanta Marion Incinerator in Brooks, Oregon.

Covanta is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Marion County, and under its draft permit renewal, allowable greenhouse gas emissions would increase.

The incinerator also emits toxins such as heavy metals and dioxin, known to be detrimental to human health and the environment. Some of these emissions limits could increase. The draft permit would also increase emissions limits for fine particulate matter, tiny particles that can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and are associated with numerous health problems. Covanta incinerates hazardous medical waste as well, including out-of-state medical waste.

There are sensible, lower-cost solutions for garbage disposal. If Covanta closes, the county could take waste to Coffin Butte Landfill north of Corvallis. This state-of-the-art landfill already takes West Salem garbage. Sending trash to a landfill rather than burning it would be less expensive, eliminate a significant public health hazard, and create fewer greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. A Zero Waste program would divert most of the solid waste to reuse, recycling and composting.

Negotiations for a new contract have been underway for more than a year. A bill (HB 4049) in the 2020 state legislative session would make Covanta eligible for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), meant as incentives for new, clean renewable energy. Covanta’s energy is neither new, nor clean, nor renewable. 350 Salem OR and our allies will be pushing back.