Detroit incinerator that sparked odor complaints to close indefinitely

Detroit Renewable Energy facility to be shut down Wednesday

Detroit incinerator (WDIV)
Detroit incinerator (WDIV)

DETROIT – The Detroit waste incinerator will be shut down Wednesday amid complaints about the odor and noise from neighborhood residents.

Officials announced they will cease operations at the Detroit Renewable Energy facility, a decision that was made due to financial and community concerns, according to CEO Todd Grzech.

"Serving our community and being a good neighbor for years to come is our number one priority," Grzech said. "The decision ends the odor, noise and other community nuisances, and allows Detroit Thermal to focus on investing where it matters.

"Ceasing operations at the waste-to-energy plant gives us the ability to focus more on Detroit Thermal infrastructure, improving the condition of the underground steam system and the streets."

Customers of Detroit Thermal's underground steam system will not experience an interruption in service, officials said.

Here is a statement from Operating Engineers 324:

"We are extremely disappointed that Detroit Renewable Energy has chosen to shutter their Detroit facility without warning and eliminate the jobs of 150 hard working skilled employees. This decision is short-sighted, and eliminates a source of renewable energy important to the future of the region. More importantly, it eliminates good paying jobs for skilled professionals -- many of them Detroit residents -- and the tax base that comes with them. These employees worked tirelessly to generate the clean energy that serves many of Detroit’s most important buildings. They deserve better treatment than what they have received today.

"It is also disturbing that there are so many that would celebrate this decision without thought or care for these workers, their families, or the tax revenue this facility provided the city of Detroit. The future jobs of these professionals should be of more pressing importance than thoughts about the future of the land their lost jobs sit on."

Here is a statement from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan:

"The City of Detroit has been pushing Detroit Renewable Energy to address neighborhood concerns about the incinerator for nearly a year. Now that the company has decided to close the incinerator, the City will soon have the ability to influence the future use of this property. The City of Detroit’s trash contract with Detroit Renewable Energy will be transferred to another company and our rates are locked in through the remainder of the contract, therefore, we expect there will be no added costs to taxpayers. The City of Detroit and Detroit At Work will work with the company in its effort to help their current employees find new jobs. As far as future use of this site, it is my strong preference that this site never again be used as a waste incinerator. We will be pursuing our legal options to make sure this remains the case."

Here are statements from members of the Michigan Environmental Council:

"The closing of Detroit Renewable Power, the incinerator in the midst of Detroit and where the vast majority of Detroit’s solid waste is incinerated, presents an urgency and opportunity," said Zero Waste Detroit Convener Margaret Weber. "Detroit Renewable Power’s incinerator has been a scourge on Detroit, a source of noxious odors during the warm ‘smelly season,’ and air emissions beyond its permitted levels. It’s closing is a blessing. But now what happens to our waste? Zero Waste Detroit, a coalition of over 20 environmental justice, environmental and community organizations, has been urging Detroit to build an infrastructure for waste reduction and recycling, designed for success and building the local and circular economy. This event tells us that the time is now for intensive planning. Zero Waste Detroit commits to continued work with the City to divert waste from disposal and help residents fully engage for a cleaner, healthier City."

"It is no mystery why Detroiters are hospitalized for asthma at a rate more than three times greater than Michigan as a whole," said Community Engagement Director Sandra Turner-Handy. "For too long, the residents of Detroit have been breathing in toxic and polluted air, and the incinerator has contributed to this in a substantial way. Detroit residents have been complaining about this for years, and while we are glad that this terrible emitter will soon be closed, more needs to be done to make sure Detroit is a safe and beautiful place to live."

"This incinerator was built in 1986, and we still know now what we knew then: that disposal by burning is not the best option for material that still has value," said Deputy Policy Director Sean Hammond. "Closing down this dirty and dangerous incinerator gives the City of Detroit the opportunity to expand recycling and composting initiatives which are a benefit to the environment and local economies."

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