PO BOX 44 ~ Saxapahaw, North Carolina 27340 ~ Phone (336) 525-2003 office ~ Email:


April 6, 2010

Sue Dayton, NC Healthy Communities (336) 525- 2003; (336) 624-2412
Catherine Mitchell, Citizens for a Healthy Environment (704) 545-4817

BMWNC medical waste incinerator is operating on expired permit
League calls on MCAQ to re-issue permit under new, more protective EPA rules

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has confirmed that the BMWNC medical waste in incinerator in Matthews, NC, has been operating without a valid permit since March of 2009. The information was submitted to the Mecklenburg County Air Quality in comments concerning the incinerator’s application for a permit renewal. By law, a medical waste incinerator cannot operate without a valid Title V air quality permit, and an application for renewal must be submitted to the governing agency nine months prior to the expiration date. The incinerator’s permit renewal application was due June 22, 2008.

BMWNC’s operator didn’t submit a complete application to renew its permit until February 16, 2009, nearly 8 months late. However, MCAQ allowed the incinerator to continue to operate by issuing an application shield long after its permit had expired. However, the shield can only be used if a facility submits a “timely and complete application for permit reissuance, including for renewal” (MCAPCO Section 1.5512, “Title V Procedures,” (b) Application Shield (1) ).

Sue Dayton, the League’s NC Healthy Communities Coordinator, said, “Clearly the MCAQ claims the discretionary power to grant an application shield months after the deadline has passed. We are calling on them to exercise those same powers to expedite the protections provided under the new EPA incinerator rules.”

Comments sent to MCAQ from the League requested that the MCAQ to take proactive steps in expediting the new rules promulgated by the EPA in October of 2009. The early adoption and implementation of the stricter standards by the EPA would result in more effective air pollution control and provide additional protections to residents of Matthews and nearby Stallings. According to a memo dated January 29, 2010, Mecklenburg County Attorney Marvin A. Bethune stated that the MCAQ could, in fact, request special permission from the state’s Environmental Management Commission to move forward in adopting and implementing the new EPA rules.

A group of residents has formed as a League chapter called Citizens for a Healthy Environment (CHE), dedicated to shutting down the incinerator.

Catherine Mitchell, a spokesperson for CHE, said: “Citizens for a Healthy Environment was formed by a number of concerned residents to address the very real health and environmental dangers connected to this medical-waste incinerator. We believe it's time that Mecklenburg County paid attention to the health concerns in the community rather than the needs of the incinerator, and we intend to work to that end."

The permit information comes at the close of a public comment period concerning the facility’s application to renew its Title V permit. The MCAQ may be poised to renew the incinerator’s permit under the old EPA rules. This would result in exposing residents to unsafe levels of mercury, dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride and nitrogen oxide above EPA standards. The new EPA standards, issued in October of 2009, also call for recycling and segregation of medical waste, additional monitoring, and regulation of uncontrolled releases of toxic air pollutants whenever air pollution equipment fails.

The BMWNC medical waste in incinerator has a long history of troubling violations, and large volumes of uncontrolled releases of toxic air pollutants that occur when air pollution equipment fails. In addition to complaints about odors of burning flesh, metal and plastic, and ash falling onto adjacent properties, residents are concerned about the high numbers of cancers seen in the area.

To read the comments concerning the BMWNC medical waste incinerator’s application for a permit renewal: