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San Gabriel Valley Digest

Irwindale : Doctors Protest Incinerator

October 16, 1986

The Los Angeles County Medical Assn. has reiterated its opposition to construction of a waste-to-energy plant in Irwindale by asking the state Energy Commission and five other agencies to block the project.

Dr. Samuel I. Roth, chairman of the association's Committee on Environmental Health, said, "We feel this incinerator will be more dangerous than burying the waste in landfills. By far our greatest concern is the potential for the release of dioxins, which are extremely toxic substances."

The medical association went on record against the project a year ago, Roth said, but failed to convey that opposition to regulatory agencies. Now the association has sent letters to the agencies signed by Roth and Dr. Jack E. McCleary, association president, charging that the incinerator would create health risks by adding to air pollution.

Roth said the environmental committee is not necessarily opposed to all trash incineration projects, several of which are being planned in Los Angeles County.

"If the incinerators could be modified so that the emissions aren't so harmful, the committee might approve," Roth said.

He said the committee looked at the Irwindale proposal at the suggestion of Dr. Forest Tennant, a West Covina councilman who opposes the project but has not studied other incineration plants.

"We're not really watchdogs," Roth said, "but when someone comes to us, we address the issue."

Pacific Waste Management Corp., which is seeking to build the Irwindale plant in two stages with an ultimate capacity of 3,000 tons of trash a day, has given regulatory authorities a health risk assessment of the project that argues that the emission of dioxins and other pollutants would pose much less of a health risk than many everyday activities, such as eating one charcoal-broiled steak a week or drinking a diet soda with saccharin every day.

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