A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 June 1993


The ban was enacted by the West Virginia Legislature on April 10, 1993. The following is excerpted from West Virginia Law, H.B. 2445: “The Legislature further finds that incineration technologies present potentially significant health and environmental problems...Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, it shall be unlawful to install, establish or construct a new municipal or commercial solid waste facility utilizing incineration technology for the purpose of solid waste incineration: Provided, That such prohibition may not include the development of pilot projects which may include tire or tire material incineration, designed to analyze the efficiency and environmental impacts of incineration technologies: Provided, however, That any pilot project proposing to incinerate solid waste must comply with regulatory requirements for solid waste facilities established in this chapter and shall demonstrate with particularity to the division that it has the financial and technical ability to comply with all regulations applicable to solid waste facilities utilizing incineration technologies. The division shall require a surety bond, deposit or similar instrument in an amount sufficient to cover the costs of potential future environmental harm at the site...”


Missy Woolverton and Tom Degen, of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, lobbied and worked exceptionally hard for this ban. The following letter from Missy Woolverton gives some background to the ban. What Missy doesn’t mention in her letter is the incredible amount of time that she and Tom Degen put into meetings and lobbying politicians. “During the 1992 regular legislative session the environmental lobby did NOT meet with much opposition to HB 2445 from the groups that have historically opposed us on environmental legislation. At the public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, no business or industry groups, such as the West Virginia Manufacturers Association or the Chamber of Commerce, spoke against the bill; however, twenty-one speakers from across West Virginia came to the Capitol, in the middle of the week and on two days’ notice, to speak in favor of a ban on commercial and municipal solid waste incineration. The legislation enjoyed the sponsorship of Speaker of the House Chuck Chambers. His support carried the bill through the House and to the Senate. The West Virginia Senate has a well established Big Business Bias and it is highly unlikely that the bill would have survived the Natural Resources Committee without the interest of the Administration. With the support of the Administration...the bill was passed. The bill went from an out-and-out ban to a ban-with-conditions, i.e. the pilot project language was added, as was other weakening language. In conclusion, West Virginia has, thanks to the hard work of concerned citizens, key legislators, and Administrative support, the second incineration ban in the U.S.” For further information, contact W.V. Citizen Action Group at 304-346-5891; or the principal environmental lobbyists on the bill -- Tom Degen at 304-655-8651 or Missy Woolverton at 304-344-3549.

“ESSENTIAL READING” REPORT ON MEDICAL WASTE AVAILABLE. The editors of Waste Not are remiss in not informing our readers of this report earlier. It is an excellent report that we highly recommend to anyone involved in medical waste issues. The report fully describes the different technologies available for handing the medical waste stream, compares the costs involved, discusses impacts on the environment, provides references, and produces recommendations. It is highly readable and offers an exceptional in-depth analysis of the myriad ways a hospital can implement the 3Rs (Reduce/Reuse/Recycle). The report is titled Protecting Community Health: 3R’s Solutions to Health Care Waste, written by Sharon Brown, Dawn Kjollesdal, Martina Lee and edited by Gareth Kirkby of the Recycling Council of Ontario. Cost: $20 from the Recycling Council of Ontario, 489 College St., Toronto, Canada M6G 1A5. Tel:416-960-1025.

“RADIOACTIVE WASTE: THE MEDICAL FACTOR,” was written by Minard Hamilton and published in January 1993 by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). For those concerned about the radioactive medical waste stream, this report will be of great interest as it enumerates all the known radionuclides used in medicine and their half lives. According to a NIRS’ newsletter: “...While acknowledging the critical role radionuclides play in diagnosis and treatment, most medical treatment waste, the report documents, is extremely short-lived (ranging from hours to days), and can be held on-site until radioactive decay is completed. For example, nearly 100% of the medical radiation used at a typical community hospital (which represents about 5,000 of the nation’s 6,000 hospitals) have half-lives of less than 3.5 days. Over 90% have half-lives of less than one-day. In the years 1987-1990, medical waste accounted for only 318 curies (a number that could have been reduced had some waste been held for decay) shipped to off-site dumps, while [nuclear] utility waste totaled nearly 1.6 million curies...” This report is available for $20 from NIRS, 1424 16th Street, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-328-0002. NIRS also publishes a biweekly newsletter called The Nuclear Monitor. For anyone wanting information on nuclear/radioactive issues the NIRS newsletter is a must. Available for $35/year for activists; $50 for public/academic libraries; $250 for the rest.


Prepared for GREENPEACE by Carol Alexander & Ken Stump

Available for $5 from: GREENPEACE, Atmosphere & Energy Campaign, 1436 U St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009

According to Fred Munson of the N.Y. City Greenpeace office: “This report is the only exhaustive analysis of the implications for the exploration, extraction, production and use of energy associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)” According to the report’s Executive Summary: “NAFTA institutionalizes an on-going process of deregulation in North American energy trade by preventing government ‘interference’ in market decisions. It also locks in the existing pattern of movement of energy resources: from Mexico and Canada into the United States, the world’s most energy-hungry country...NAFTA’s market-based rules embody a faith in the free market to determine what is in the best interests of society. Under this free trade regime, the marketplace, not government, will decide what is best for society and will dictate the contractual and price arrangements between buyers and sellers of energy commodities. But the energy marketplace is far from free or fair. The removal of nationalist protections and regulatory safeguards offers a new kind of protectionism - for global corporate interests from government regulation...The market ‘playing field’ is already heavily weighted in favor of fossil fuel and nuclear industries. In the United States, the fossil fuel industry alone receives upward of $25 billion a year in direct and indirect subsidies with virtually no subsidies for renewable energy systems. NAFTA explicitly institutionalizes this arrangement by mandating continued government subsidies and tax incentives to encourage oil and gas exploration, while excluding mention of subsidies for energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. Such selective subsidies constitute a major intervention in the marketplace and act as tacit policy directives by encouraging the market to invest in specific energy resources to the exclusion of others. Without public oversight and government intervention to correct existing biases, the marketplace will continue to pursue energy projects that serve private interests, but impose substantial costs to society as a whole...most of the language that ostensibly addresses environmental protection is without substance, without an enforcement mechanism. Three areas of particular concern in the context of energy trade are: (1) The provisions for ‘Technical Standards’ prescribe the goal of harmonizing regulatory standards of all party countries in order to reduce non-tariff trade barriers. This means that legitimate, hard-won national and sub-national level environmental protection laws and regulations could be subject to challenge as trade barriers (or even PERCEIVED barriers) under NAFTA. Such challenges and their ultimate resolution will be decided by a handful of government officials in a process completely aloof from public participation, advocacy, and appeal. (2) If an environmental regulation were to be successfully challenged, the NAFTA provides that the defending country could compensate the challenging country for its economic loss and thereby maintain the integrity of its internal laws. This is the emptiest of promises in the reign of a multi-trillion dollar deficits; there is simply no possibility for congressional budgeting for what could be staggering compensatory amounts. (3) Although NAFTA provides that parties to the agreement ‘should not’ lower environmental standards to attract investment, no mechanism for enforcement accompanies this timid statement; nor does it address the current lax enforcement of existing laws that regulate energy exploration, production, processing, and transportation. U.S.-based transnational oil and gas corporations are already fleeing U.S. borders to friendlier investment and regulatory climates as quickly as they can move the drill rigs. NAFTA’s provisions have accelerated this movement and are encouraging development of destructive mega-energy projects in Canada and Mexico (and, eventually, all Latin America) that otherwise could not have occurred. Conspicuously absent is any provision in the energy chapter of NAFTA that acknowledges the need to account for the environmental impacts of energy resources before they are developed....”


Our apologies for being so late in publishing the newsletter. We took a much needed break before we enter our sixth year of publishing Waste Not that included a wonderful 5-day holiday & planting a full garden. We are now back to our regular schedule.

WASTE NOT # 238. A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US50; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.