BRISTOL - Despite public concerns, Covanta, which operates the Bristol resource recovery facility, says it does not plan to expand or incinerate more waste.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is considering three proposals to replace incinerators. One would close the Hartford Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority facility. Waste would instead be sent to Covanta plants in Bristol and Preston, according to Covanta’s plan on the DEEP website.
The potential impact of the proposal has raised concern in the city because the Covanta plant in Bristol could increase the amount of waste incinerated and install another incinerator, according to Energy Justice Network, a grassroots energy organization that supports communities threatened by pollution.
The proposal must be accepted by DEEP by Dec. 31, according to the organization.
The mayor’s office received many calls from residents concerned about possible impact on Bristol.
Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said, however, that Covanta does not plan to expand if DEEP accepts the proposal.
The Bristol facility, at 170 Enterprise Drive, was built in the 1980s and already incinerates waste from several cities and towns, including Bristol, Zoppo-Sassu said.
The plant’s member communities are allowed to bring their waste to the plant to be burned, she said. Nonmember communities can occasionally use the facility as well, she added.
The plant has two incinerators that can process roughly 200,000 tons of waste per year, she said. It has room for a third incinerator which, if installed, would allow the processing of an additional 100,000 tons, she said.
However, Covanta is not in a position to install another incinerator at this time because it is expensive, according to Zoppo-Sassu. She said the plant also can’t expand its facility because its property has wetlands on 75 percent of its perimeter.
If the proposal were to be accepted and more waste brought into the city from the Hartford plant, Zoppo-Sassu said, the city will tell non-member communities that they cannot use the local Covanta plant.
If Covanta plans to expand or install another incinerator, Zoppo-Sassu said that it must go before DEEP, the Bristol Facility Board that oversees related policy issues, or as in the past, the City Council.
Additionally, she said, Covanta will encourage recycling and waste reduction. According to the plan that was submitted to DEEP, she said, it plans to divert 60 to 75 percent of the current material going to the Hartford plant.
The city is monitoring the DEEP process and has met with Covanta representatives, Zoppo-Sassu said, and the city is sensitive to balancing the needs of Covanta, the city’s No. 2 taxpayer, and environmental health and neighborhood impacts.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at 860-973-1801 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.