Home > Uncategorized > As He Touts Climate & Environmental Justice Policies, NJ Gov. Murphy’s DEP Proposes Renewal of Newark Garbage Incinerator Air Permit

As He Touts Climate & Environmental Justice Policies, NJ Gov. Murphy’s DEP Proposes Renewal of Newark Garbage Incinerator Air Permit

NJ’s Largest Greenhouse Gas & Hazardous Air Polluter Located In Overburdened Newark

Gov. Murphy DEP Regulatory Policies Contradict Gov.’s Executive Orders & Rhetoric

Example of What’s Wrong With RGGI

Public Hearing on DEP Permit in Newark on Tuesday Night

Source: NJ DEP (my emphasis)

Source: NJ DEP (my emphasis)

You will not find a more egregious example of hypocrisy than this – and a better example of why the RGGI program is flawed.

At the same time the Gov. Murphy touts his commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting environmental justice, the Murphy administration’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently proposed a new permit extension of the Newark garbage incinerator, one of NJ’s largest greenhouse gas polluters and a major source of hazardous air pollutants in the already pollution over-burdened and majority black city of Newark, NJ.

(see if you can figure that out by accessing Murphy DEPs New Community Air Quality Mapping Tool)

The DEP draft permit makes a mockery of Gov. Murphy’s purported commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting environmental justice (see Executive Order #23):

WHEREAS, historically, New Jersey’s low-income communities and communities of color have been exposed to disproportionately high and unacceptably dangerous levels of air, water, and soil pollution, with the accompanying potential for increased public health impacts;

(read the DEP draft permit renewal and see if you can find the words “justice” or “cumulative impact” or “disproportionate burden”)

According to the DEP draft permit, the Newark garbage incinerator emits over 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gases.

For statewide context, according to DEP,

New Jersey’s current annual [RGGI regulated power sector] emissions of CO2 are about 18.6 million tons

That makes the Newark garbage incinerator one of NJ’s largest greenhouse gas emitters – that one plant represents almost 12% of Statewide emissions from the RGGI power sector.

According to the DEP draft permit, the Newark garbage incinerator is also a major polluter that emits huge quantities of hazardous air pollutants and fine particulate matter that cause adverse health effects, from asthma to cancer:

The facility is classified as a major facility based on its potential to emit 34.8 tons/year (tpy) of volatile organic compounds, 138 tpy of nitrogen oxides, 482 tpy of carbon monoxide, 101 tpy of particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 10 microns (PM-10), 119 tpy of ammonia, 153 tpy of methane, and 2,157,259 tpy of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e).

This permit allows individual hazardous air pollutant (HAPs) to be emitted at a rate to not exceed: 117 lbs/year of acrolein, 466 lbs/year of benzene, 4,300 lbs/year of formaldehyde, 85 lb/year of polycyclic organic matter and 5,020 lbs/year of toluene.

The DEP found that these hazardous pollutants presented a “negligible” and acceptable risk:

A Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was previously conducted on June 25, 2012 and health risk was determined to be negligible consistent with NJDEP Technical Manual 1003. A Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was conducted, with this permit application, for polycyclic organic compound emissions, which are being added to the permit and health risk was determined to be negligible consistent with NJDEP Technical Manual 1003. No further revised Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was conducted, with this permit application, since no other changes were made to Air Toxics (including HAPs) emissions and no changes were made to the risk parameters since the last risk assessment.

We explained in detail why the DEP’s methodology for reviewing cancer and health risks under NJDEP Technical Manual 1003 is seriously flawed and not protective, see:

The DEP did not revise their flawed risk assessment methods or conduct an environmental justice review. Instead, they not only rubber stamped the prior Christie DEP risk assessment, they literally ignored Gov. Murphy’s EO 23 on environmental justice. DEP openly admitted this:

No further revised Facility-Wide Risk Assessment was conducted, with this permit application

In addition to the huge greenhouse gas, fine particulate, and hazardous air pollutant emissions, the electric power produced by the plant costs consumers far more than alternative renewable energy sources. (I’m not sure if current electric contract is above market prices, but the original contract was as an “incentive” (subsidy) to “resource recovery” and”private investment”.)

And on top of all that, there is no longer a need to operate the Newark garbage incinerator. (I’m not sure of whether the plant still imports large amounts of garbage from NY City at a lower tipping fee than that paid by Essex County and Newark residents, but the original deal under the Port Authority imported lots of NYC garbage at lower rates than Essex County paid.)

The plant was a technological dinosaur when it was designed in the 1980’s, and was approved just before the Florio DEP 1992 solid waste plan deemed garbage incineration a “technology of last resort” and cancelled about 15 planned incinerators. There are far more cost effective and environmentally sound ways to manage solid waste – recycling and composting.

And on top of all that, the bonds issued to finance the facility have been paid off and the DEP State $48 million loan to the project has been repaid.

The plant should be shut down, not allowed to operate until at least 2022.

A renewal of the permit is an outrage.

The climate emergency and environmental injustice make that shutdown especially compelling.

According to DEP:

A public hearing will be held on December 10, 2019 at the Morton A. Siegler Lecture Hall (Room 2132) at Essex County College, located at 303 University Avenue, Newark, NJ 07102, and phone number (973) 877-3434. The public hearing will start at 7:00 PM and end at 9:00 PM. If there are persons wishing to comment, the meeting will be extended until all persons present have had the opportunity to present their comments. At the public hearing, written and oral comments will be accepted by the Department. The public must submit all comments by close of business Friday January 10, 2020.

So, let me summarize the fatal flaws in this permit:

1. ancient technology, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, is allowed to continue to operate (license to polluter under RGGI);

2. no environmental justice considerations, including cumulative impacts and disproportionate burdens;

3. flawed risk assessment review and inadequate public health protections

4. cleaner and cheaper ways to manage solid waste;

5. cleaner and cheaper ways to generate electricity

6. consumer ripoff and corporate subsidies.

Let’s hope folks show up at the hearing and demand that the plant be shut down!

(this is a corrected and revised version)

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
You must be logged in to post a comment.