Jackson County Incinerator in Danger of Closing

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

For those who live in Jackson County, the resource recovery facility, or incinerator, has been the easiest way to get rid of trash since 1987.

It's also been a major source of steam and electricity for the Michigan Department of Corrections, but that's all about to end.

"The Department of Corrections has indicated that they will no longer purchase energy from us, effective September 30th," said Michael Overton, Jackson County Administrator. "They believe they can generate their own steam at substantially less cost than we can provide."

Michael Overton says the purchase brought in around $2.4 million a year. Without it, the facility can't stay open. In fact, Overton recommended to the county commissioners, Friday morning, that notice of closure be given to the plant's managing company, Veolia.

Commissioner John Polaczyk says it's about time.

"The health reasons. Even though they meet the Environmental Protection Agency's standards, there's still some mercury and other chemicals that are being admitted through that facility," said Polaczyk.

According to Polaczyk, there have also been reports of increased asthma cases in the area, possibly caused by the plant. A high $77 a ton tipping fee is another drawback.

On the other hand, Overton says the 33 plant workers would lose their jobs if it closed and all garbage would be taken to landfills instead. He's hoping to make another deal, selling only electricity for $1.3 million once the plant's bond payments are finished in October.

"Without our bond debt, $1.3 million would allow us to remain in operation," said Overton.

If another deal isn't made, Overton says the incinerator would be closed by the end of the year.

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