I applaud the resolve of Commissioners Jason Bashaw, Ricky Gamble, Clyde Fleming and Phil Oxendine, who have listened to their constituents and publicly opposed the medical-waste incinerator project, advising Integrated Waste Management Systems to look elsewhere to locate its polluting facility.

However, despite all the well-publicized facts regarding the serious health risks posed by medical-waste incinerators, Chairman Wesley Wainwright has publicly encouraged IWMS to locate in our county. Wainwright’s dubious invitation was made despite overwhelming public opposition, the opposition from the other commissioners and the evidence that allowing such a facility would be a very costly and irresponsible mistake.

IWMS is an inexperienced startup company. IWMS representatives have avoided fully disclosing the most problematic aspects of medical-waste incinerators. They have denied the risks this unproven technology would pose to the public health, to our locally produced food supply, and to our beautiful natural environment. They have dismissed the fact that other methods of medical-waste disposal are available. Incinerating medical waste is not only unnecessary, it is an irresponsible choice.

Medical-waste incinerators are known to be dangerous to the public health:

Thirty-nine states have banned medical-waste incinerators, with Utah possibly becoming the 40th state to do so.

The Florida Medical Association opposes medical-waste incinerators.

The EPA discourages the construction of new medical-waste incinerators.

The international coalition, Health Care Without Harm, opposes medical-waste incinerators.

In addition, it has not been explained who benefits from modifying land-development regulations so that polluting industries can locate “by right” at the catalyst site. Who benefits when polluting industries such as medical-waste incinerators can bypass public hearings? The residents of Suwannee County would certainly not benefit by being shut out of the permitting process. This “by right” modification to land-development regulations must be rescinded.

Suwannee County residents need good jobs with clean, socially responsible, built-to-last companies. The Board of County Commissioners should put the people first and investigate each candidate company thoroughly and publicly to ensure it is right for Suwannee County.

Suwannee County is poised for a bright future of economic growth, but only if responsible choices are made today.

Lori McCraney

Suwannee County resident

 

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