The ongoing battle against a giant trash incinerator being waged by the youth of Curtis Bay has made national news here and there, to the detriment of our city’s reputation. A recent article on the incinerator in online environmentalist magazine Grist describes Baltimore as “a city that essentially poisons its children.”The statistics are grim. Baltimore suffers the highest rate of death from air pollution in the entire country, Grist tells us. To make things worse, Curtis Bay — already home to “a medical waste incinerator, a bunch of chemical plants, and a coal pier that covers the whole neighborhood in fine black soot” — is getting a giant renewable-energy-generating trash incinerator. It will chug away, polluting the air less than a mile away from two public schools.
Grist interviewed Destiny Watford, a 20-year-old activist who has been fighting the incinerator for years. Watford described a part of Curtis Bay as “a toxic wasteland” that had previously become so hazardous that people had to move away. She also related an anecdote of asking a group 30 students to raise their hands if they suffered from asthma. “Everyone’s hands shot up,” she said. (That may sound hyperbolic, but it is true that the citywide asthma rate is twice the national average.)
All in all, it’s a bad look for the city. And it’s not over. The New-York-based Energy Answers still plans to move forward with the incinerator, though according to Grist, United Workers has filed a notice of intent to sue the company over an alleged violation of the Clean Air Act.