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Environmental Advocates Protest At BRESCO Incinerator

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Environmental advocates went to Baltimore’s BRESCO trash incinerator Wednesday  protesting its continued operation. BRESCO, located off Russell Street near predominantly Black communities, is the city’s largest source of industrial air pollution, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

Last year, the City Council unanimously passed the Baltimore Clean Air Act in an attempt to impose severe emission restrictions on BRESCO. But court documents filed this month indicate that Mayor Jack Young is negotiating a settlement with Wheelabrator, BRESCO’s operator. 

Advocates are worried that Young intends to extend the city’s contract with the company. The current contract is to expire in 2021. 

At a press conference before the protest, City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke demanded that BRESCO be shut down. 

“Our future has no place for BRESCO,” she said. ‘We refuse to choke to death.” 

Clarke said that those living near the incinerator suffer serious health repercussions. 

“Right now, that incinerator polluting air is daily reducing life expectancy and spreading asthma and debilitating health deficits, which deny the thousands living in proximity of their very lives,” Clarke said. 

Phylicia Porter is the Democratic nominee for City Council from District 10, where BRESCO is located. She saidresidents near BRESCO have suffered environmental health inequities for generations.  

“If you don’t live in the South Baltimore communities, you don't know what it's like to go outside and take a deep breath and have to cough,” Porter said. 

Shashawnda Campbell, a member of the South Baltimore Community Land Trust, facilitated the press conference. 

“We cannot let this contract be extended,” she said. “That would be very detrimental to the zero waste future that we have all been trying to create here in the city.”

The audio for this post has been updated to properly reflect Phylicia Porter's position. 

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.