Environmental groups briefed on Philly trash plans

    Philadelphia officials briefed environmental groups Wednesday on new plans for the city’s trash. City Council is set to vote on two multi-year contracts Thursday to facilitate those plans.

    Under the proposals, negotiated by the mayor’s office, Philadelphia’s trash will go one of two routes. The city would continue to send some to waste-to-fuel incinerators. The firm Waste Management would build a plant in Northeast Philly by 2013 to process the rest into concentrated pellets burned for fuel.The city argues the plan makes environmental sense.

    But Brady Russell, Eastern Pennsylvania director at Clean Water Action, said his organization remains skeptical about the environmental impacts

    “Over our 30-year history, we’ve heard this story that this new incinerator technology is different a bunch of times,” he said. “And it always turns out that incineration is incineration.””That’s a national argument,” says city Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. “But the city has a fantastic deal that it has made with two vendors where most of our fuel will now go to a waste-energy facility. We will receive a higher amount of recycling out of that process and we will have a new $22 million facility that is being built by the private sector … creating green jobs as a result.”Tolson says the new contracts are expected to save the city $70 million over their lifetime.

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