HARRISBURG (AP) - A Greencastle, Pa., firm's plan to build the East Coast's largest medical-waste processing plant near a predominantly black housing project in Harrisburg has prompted civil-rights leaders to accuse city leaders of "environmental racism."
"They don't put these things in upper-class neighborhoods," Charles Chivis, president of the local NAACP chapter, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Proponents, who include two city councilors with financial ties to the company that wants to build the facility, insist it would not endanger the health of its neighbors and that the criticism is unwarranted.
"We're not going to bring an environmentally risky project into our midst - we've got enough problems," said Mayor Stephen Reed. "I would invite anyone who has a critical review or any technical question to come forward and ask it. I have no problem with that."
Greencastle-based Bio-Oxidation Inc. is seeking a state environmental permit to process 400 tons of medical waste daily at a site two miles from the Capitol and a few hundred feet from government-owned apartments that house 915 people. The Department of Environmental Protection has said the plan appears to be environmentally sound, but has posed a series of questions about security, plant operations and other matters to the company.