A report by two county health board members assigned to a fact-finding mission on hazardous waste incineration concludes it is the best waste-management technology available and "should be given a fair chance to develop."
Findings from a tour by the two county officials to seven out-of-state incinerator sites were summarized in a 12-page report recently submitted to the Grand County Commission. Five hundred copies were printed for distribution to the public."Industrial waste incineration technology appears to be the best answer to the waste problem at the present time and should be given a fair chance to develop . . . to effectively take care of the waste problems now facing our country, and not without reasonable regulation and control," the report concluded.
The summary was prepared by Georgia Hamblin, chairman of the Southeastern Utah Health District Board and a real estate agent in Moab. Hamblin was accompanied on the tour last June by Janie Walker, a member of the County Planning and Zoning Commission and the health board.
Voters will determine by referendum in the November election whether to allow hazardous waste incineration in Grand County.
Hamblin and Walker's trip, supported by $5,000 from the County Commission, was to shed light on advantages and disadvantages to communities of nearby hazardous and toxic waste incinerators.
The report differed from a study released Saturday by the Grand County League of Women Voters. That study said communities with nearby incinerators said safety violations and accidents occurred at the facilities, and were divided about benefits the industry provides.
Echoing a statement attributed to the Chamber of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark., Hamblin wrote: "Economically, the sites were a boon to most communities, and were accepted as just another industry coming into the area by the majority of residents."
The women visited El Dorado, Ark.; Coffeyville, Kan.; Calvert and Clay, Ky.; Aurora, Miss.; and Roebuck and Rockhill, S.C.
The report specified only that two incinerator companies had payrolls of more than $3 million, and paid property taxes exceeding $250,000. Smaller incinerators, because they employ fewer people, have less economic impact, Hamblin wrote.
She referred to a proposed hazardous waste incinerator at Cisco, northeast Grand County, only in terms of employment, saying plans are for 50 to 60 employees - "not a tremendous impact."
Hamblin wrote that property taxes from the Cisco plant, proposed by developers in Denver and New York City, "will impact to some degree; what, I can't project at this time." Following that statement was a quote attributed to the Chamber of Commerce of El Dorado, Ark.: "An incinerator in any community is a boon to their economy."
According to the summary, findings were based on tours of the facilities; interviews with facility owners, operators and public relations personnel, community leaders, residents and politicians; health reports; reports by a toxicologist; newspaper articles; and personal observation.
Hamblin said anti-incinerator groups exist in each area but no contact was made with them.
"We already knew what they were going to say. We have newspaper articles on what those people were saying. We hear the same scenario, the same rhetoric," Hamblin said in an interview. "And our time frame was not such that we could . . . we wanted to know more about siting and businesses."
Hamblin presented an oral report on the trip last August during a meeting that grew heated as she explained her methodology and findings. A number of people accused the women of bias in favor of incineration, and others walked out of the meeting.
County Commission Chairman Jimmie Walker said Saturday he believed Hamblin did a good job on the report. "She asked the necessary questions and this sort of thing."
"I think her bottom line on the thing interested me - that is that she feels the technology is available for a safe incinerator, but it depends on the operator, so know your operator," Walker said.