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Chester residents: Please sign on to the letter below and share with others in Chester! For more info, see Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living.

If you live in Delaware County, but not in Chester City, please use this sign-on letter.
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Dear Chester City Council and Delaware County Council:

As residents and organizations of Chester City, we call on Mayor Kirkland and Chester City Council to stop supporting the importation and burning of trash at Covanta's incinerator in our city and to stop putting the health of our community up for sale!

We also call on Delaware County Council and all municipalities in our county to urge Delaware County Solid Waste Authority (DCSWA) not to sign a new contract with Covanta to continue burning the county's trash. The current 5-year contract is set to expire on April 30, 2022 and is up for potential extension for additional years as early as May 2021.

We're not proud that our city is described as one of the nation's worst cases of environmental racism. Our city is home to the nation's largest trash incinerator, a sewage sludge incinerator, chemical manufacturing industries and other polluters.

Only 1.8% of the trash burned at Covanta is from our city. Since 1992, our city has been the place to burn trash from all over Delaware County, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, and many other counties and states. Worse than landfilling directly, Covanta turns trash into toxic air pollution and toxic ash that fills up the county's landfill.

We're not pleased to learn that Mayor Kirkland wrote to the City of Philadelphia in 2019 to encourage them to send another seven years of trash to Chester. Chester City receives a cut of every ton of waste burned at Covanta, making up 9% of the city's budget. The county's share of this $4.6 million is approximately $1.3 million/year that would be lost if the county stopped burning its trash in Chester. By comparison, just one of many air pollutants coming out of Covanta (fine particulate matter) causes an estimated $112 million in annual harm to health, primarily from cutting people's lives short. The city's addiction to revenue from Covanta cannot justify this harm to public health.

Because Chester City is financially distressed and in receivership, we urge Delaware County Council to commit to replace lost revenue while prioritizing the health and well-being of residents.

Covanta trash incineration is the biggest air polluter in Chester City and is one of the largest emitters of nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution which causes asthma attacks. Incinerators are leading sources of toxic mercury pollution and fine particulate matter that contribute to cancers, respiratory illnesses, and more. The incinerator is also one of the biggest lead polluters, which is known to cause behavioral issues and increases in aggression. Studies have found that communities exposed to air pollution are more likely to have violent crimes.

Trash incineration is the most polluting way to manage waste and is worse than directly landfilling trash.

Please do not sacrifice the health of Chester residents by allowing our city to be a regional hub for waste burning. Please support making Chester whole financially without making us choose between solvency and our health.

Sincerely,
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