OOS 30-7 - Energy stewardship: from local environmental to global justice

Wednesday, August 10, 2011: 3:40 PM
14, Austin Convention Center
John G. Waffenschmidt, Covanta Energy Corporation, Morristown, NJ

Solid waste facilities have often been placed in poor or minority neighborhoods, generally due to a siting process which did not involve the local community.  These type of facilities may have actual or perceived environmental or health consequences to those communities. In a most basic sense, there has tended to be a clustering of ‘undesirable’ uses in such communities which can lead to unexpected actual or perceived synergistic impacts. Communities have responded to this by engaging the owners and operators of these facilities through the regulatory and political processes available to them. These processes can result in multiple strained relationships between stakeholders.  This oral addresses the question of which methods of engagement, dialogue, interaction, and resolution can be utilized to address these community issues and enable these facilities to co-exist with their communities. Methods utilized in local jurisdictions are extrapolated into policy development to enable constructive resolution of industry/community interactions in poor and minority communities. As appropriate issues of quantitative results versus community perceptions are identified.


Several case studies are presented which demonstrate the points of contention between communities and Energy-from-Waste facilities (aka Waste-to-Energy, Municipal Waste Combustors, Incinerators). To the extent that the points of contention involve technical issues of some complexity, the role of the scientist/ecologist in enabling a common understanding of actual or perceived impacts between the affected communities and owner/operators is presented. As demonstrated by these case studies, specific paths can be developed to enable coexistence and issue resolution between such solid waste facilities and the communities in which they operate. Success generally results in impact reduction in the community and a methodology of engagement for further dialogue and issue resolution. Demonstrated success locally is extrapolated to methods, including policy development, to enable such approaches in a more global context.

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