Rep. J.J. Johnson: Incinerator Ban Should Apply to Tire Plant

If building a tire incinerator a mile from New Castle City – and less than a half-mile from several schools and parks – sounds unbelievable, you’ll understand why I and many of my constituents are angry.

RenewOil Energy has submitted an application to DNREC for an exemption to Delaware’s incinerator ban to build what they describe as a “pyrolysis plant for scrap tire and plastics” on McCullough Drive. Pyrolysis is the technical term for a chemical change brought about by heat – in this case, 300-700°F – in which scrap tires and plastics would be broken down into fuel, oil and scrap steel.

I support the idea of recycling or reusing garbage rather than throwing it into a landfill. However, Delaware has had what essentially is a statewide incinerator ban since 2000. No incinerator can be built within three miles of any residence, school or park. It also must be built in an area zoned for heavy industrial activity. This proposal meets none of those criteria.

RenewOil is trying to get by on a technicality: their DNREC application states that they should be exempt from the incinerator ban because “pyrolysis by definition is a non-combustible process.” I personally don’t care what you call it. If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, then it’s a rat.

The area where I live and represent is one of the “cancer clusters” identified in 2010, and we don’t need a plant producing more harmful chemicals like known carcinogen benzene – no matter how small a quantity.

Rep. James “J.J.” Johnson, 16th District

This letter to the editor appeared in the August 23 edition of the (Wilmington) News Journal