An "informational meeting" on a proposed hazardous waste incinerator featured more opinion than information Tuesday night when angry residents demanded that the idea be rejected.
About 150 residents gathered at Carson Community Center to hear officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state regulating agencies outline the application and permit process for Stauffer Chemical Co.'s plan to operate the state's first commercial incinerator for disposal of hazardous waste.
Shortly after the officials' presentation began, angry residents repeatedly interrupted speakers, shouting "We don't want it!" and "Build it in San Francisco!" where the EPA regional office is located. When the shower of comments continued, the speakers ended the presentation and instead tried to answer questions.
Residents said they believe that the EPA and state agencies will give the incinerator a permit without taking into account their views or those of city officials.
Mayor Kay Calas, who voiced her opposition at the meeting, said the public outcry is representative of the community's feelings.
"There are a lot of questions I need answered, but I think there are steps the City Council can take to stop this," she said, adding that in order to get all the information needed and for all points of view to be expressed, she will ask for a public meeting of the council and federal and state agency officials.
City officials declined to take part in the meeting officially, saying they did not learn of it soon enough. City Councilwoman Sylvia Muise, who attended part of the session, said she was informed of the meeting by a constituent.
"I think this proves there hasn't been good communication with the people on this issue," said Patricia Post, EPA community relations coordinator. She said a notice explaining the proposal and announcing the meeting was published in a local paper, and a letter was sent to city officials after the notice was published.
Most of the audience said they had learned of the proposal from newspaper stories.
Stauffer wants an EPA permit to adapt its sulfuric acid recycling facility at 2070 S. Wilmington Ave. to burn hazardous liquid industrial wastes. The company estimates that 50,000 gallons of waste--including contaminated gasoline and fuel oils, agricultural chemical wastes, printing inks and waste paint and thinners--would be burned each day. EPA officials said that dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are suspected of causing cancer, would not be burned.
EPA officials said incineration--when done properly--is the best method of disposing of hazardous waste. Burying it in landfills--which for years has been the most common method--can contaminate both ground and surface water. "We believe we have a viable project, and what we have to do is inform the people about the safety and feasibility of it," said Doug Riley, Stauffer project manager.