Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) officials speak of a sense of urgency in addressing the looming waste crisis when the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) shuts down the Hartford trash incineration next July.
Environmental justice advocates have called for an early shut down of the MIRA trash plant in Hartford and argued out-of- state landfill is a viable alternative. Zero waste is offered as a way to eliminate the need for any incineration. But there is no discussion of practical details on implementing these zero-waste strategies.
I was dismayed that the failure of the Hartford plant at the end of 2018 was not a sufficient wake-up call to Connecticut leaders. Few people realize how close the state came to a public health crisis. While I agree the state critically needs visionary leadership on solid waste, relying on landfills is hardly visionary.
Which is better for the residents of Hartford: a trash- to- energy plant or a 250 megawatt gas- fired power plant? City officials have voiced strong opposition to the current proposal to modernize the waste processing facility in Hartford’s South Meadows, arguing there are better uses for the site, and that the facility imposes significant health impacts on residents. The City Council impaneled a Solid Waste Task Force to consider alternatives for managing the city’s waste. While some council members have spoken of marinas or upscale riverfront condominiums, the area is suitable only for commercial/ industrial development.
Recently there has been much discussion about the need for municipal and state workers to face the new reality of current budgetary constraints. As a Hartford taxpayer, I recognize that current labor agreements are not sustainable, and a failure to restructure health and pension benefits could lead to bankruptcy and an even harsher reality. But in fairness, I also feel there is a need for a more honest and holistic discussion of this new economic reality.