A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 May 2, 1991
During the early years of ENSCOs hazardous waste incineration project, several people in Arizona tried as hard as they could, without success, to interest the press in it. In April 1990, Greenpeace organized Earth Day events in Phoenix that highlighted the massive hazardous waste complex in which the State and ENSCO were partners. The State would have received 2% of ENSCOs annual revenues from the project plus $150,000 a year as a lease payment for the 640-acre site. The week preceding the 1990 Earth Day events in Phoenix, Bradley Angel with two other Greenpeace activists chained a bed to the gates of the State capital with two people in the bed: one representing ENSCO and the other representing the States Department of Environmental Quality. This, at last, captured the press attention, and they turned out, as did 500 residents of the State, to witness the public hearing on the project, which was held in Mobile on May 7, 1990. At this public hearing the Maricopa Police Department, without provocation, attacked and arrested participants (see Waste Not #s 101,105). The police used stun guns on several people. Bradley Angel appeared to be their main target. Bradley was attacked, kicked, stun-gunned, and arrested. This outrageous attack galvanized the the public and medias attention and led to much greater scrutiny of the ENSCO deal. At the next public hearing on the project over 3,000 people showed up. For Earth Day 1991, Greenpeace again held a 3-day bed-in coupled with a giant 6 by 8 poster of the campaign promises of Governor Symington, who, as a gubernatorial candidate, promised to stop ENSCOs project in the state. It took one long hard year, but the citizens of Arizona rescued the political process from the regulatory-industrial complex. Even though ENSCO threatened three Arizona activists with litigation suits, they never stopped pursuing their fundamental democratic rights. All the bullying and threats didnt work.
**** The defeat of ENSCO is a tremendous victory for the people of Arizona and for the nationwide grassroots movement for environmental justice and democracy. Until recently the hazardous waste industry boasted that the ENSCO proposal was a model for the industry, a shining example of a state-private partnership to successfully site a controversial facility. But today the defeat of ENSCO represents an enormous setback and disaster for the toxic waste industry, a black eye for their efforts to profit while turning our communities into dumping grounds. This unprecedented victory was won even though state and federal officials had let ENSCO build most of the facility despite lacking final permits, and with government officials last year telling the public its a done deal. With the facility getting mothballed and ENSCOs incinerators being shipped away, it is living proof that you can beat the giant toxic waste companies and their friends in government against all odds. The victory is all the more significant due to the governor and legislature now embracing Toxics Use Reduction and Pollution Prevention as the real solutions to the waste problem. The message is clear: ENSCOs proposed facility was such an environmental nightmare that the State of Arizona was willing to pay $44 million to cancel the contract with ENSCO and stop the project. Hopefully other government officials will learn the lessons that Arizona officials learned the hard way, and pursue pollution prevention and not incineration. ****
Whilst the Arizona result is the most dramatic set back for ENSCO to date, it is not the first time that citizens have rescued their communities from deals struck between ENSCO and gullible state and local officials. Here are two examples:
Ashcroft - Cache Creek, British Columbia. In this largely argicultural community state and local officials were all set to approve an ENSCO PCB incinerator until local cattle ranchers, citizens and native Americans stepped in and began asking the kind of questions that officials overlook. They quickly found out there was a great difference between the theory of hazardous waste incineration as presented by P.R. people (Dont think of this as a hazardous waste incinerator - think of it as an air purification device. !!) and the practice of hazardous waste incineration as experienced by the people of El Dorado, Arkansas, and other communities in the U.S.A. who live within the shadow of commercial hazardous waste incinerators. The project was quickly defeated. For more information on the British Columbia battle contact Bill Stewart in Ashcroft at 604-453-2511. For more information on ENSCOs incinerator in El Dorado contact Mardell Smith at 501-862-5293.
Maitland, Ontario, Canada. The proposal to build a hazardous waste incinerator in the small community of Maitland in the township of Augusta, galvanized this small community as no other issue ever had. The community learned on October 4, 1988, that their town council had signed contracts with ENSCO to sell them land to build a haz. waste incinerator. All negotiations with ENSCO were held behind closed doors, and the community was told of the deal until after it had been negotiated, signed and delivered. The communitys response was swift and immediate. They were outraged that they were not told about the negotiations by their town council, and within a week concerned citizens held informational meetings, formed POWI (People Opposed to Waste Incineration), and endorsed candidates for the November 1989 elections for the town council. Every candidate endorsed by POWI was elected into office. All of these candidates had pledged to the community that they would do everything within their power to get ENSCO out. In April 1989, the town council agreed to pay ENSCO $60,000, a reimbursement for property purchase, to leave Maitland. This was the first time in Maitlands history that a town council were swept out of office on an issue. For more information contact Ken Forrest in Maitland at 613-345-2807.