[Note: originally published in the Delaware State News]
Alan Muller, Green Delaware
Many readers already know that Delaware recycles very little residential waste (around 2-15 percent, depending on who’s counting. The “Recycle Delaware” drop off centers are mostly a feel-good program.). Many don’t know how the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) avoids recycling and even harasses people who advocate it. The story of the DSWA is one of arrogant disregard for public opinion, human health, and common sense. As you read this story, remember that the real problem lies with the Governor(s) who have appointed so many misguided and unqualified people to the Authority.
A DSWA Board of Directors Meeting
On March 2, 1998, a room full of people, many from New Jersey, attended a meeting of the Board of the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA). They were worried about a DSWA scheme: to burn Delaware garbage in Pennsville, NJ, just across the river from the failed garbage incinerator near Pigeon Point (New Castle), DE (Connectiv [Delmarva Power] was also a party to this scheme.) Here is how the Board reacted:
They refused to hear from the public until AFTER voting on all the items on their agenda. Chair Richard Pryor, a former head of Catholic Charities, said comments should have been made at a meeting the week before in another county. The board then set a three minute limit to public comments. After objections, Pryor said the limit was aimed at a specific person, not the visitors from New Jersey. The board adjourned before seven o’clock, while people still had hands up asking to comment. Sharon Findlayson, Chair of the New Jersey Environmental Federation, tried to comment on behalf of the ninety thousand members of her organization. Findlayson has been to hundreds of public meetings and said she had never seen one run with such contempt for the public.
Board members denied any special interest in the NJ incinerator. Then, they admitted paying for nine staff and board members to attend a two day promotional meeting about it at a resort in Cape May. (I also attended.) They claimed to have a “fiduciary responsibility” to send garbage to the cheapest incinerator, although they say they won’t use cheaper out-of-state LANDFILLs for environmental reasons. They blamed Green Delaware and others for the expensive, polluting failures of their incineration and composting projects. For instance, Pryor admitted that operations at Pigeon Point had “stunk people out of their homes, ” but blamed the community itself.