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Baltimore Power Plant, Incinerator Linked To Health Problems For Nearby Residents

BALTIMORE (WJZ)-- The RESCO plant sits at the end of Russell Street, near Baltimore's two sports stadiums.

Basically it's a combination of an incinerator and a power plant, it burns Baltimore's trash to make steam and generate electricity, but that isn't all it makes.

"The plant emits nitrous oxide, ozone and fine particulate matter," said Alison Prost of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Prost says for people with asthma, COPD and heart disease, it makes it harder for them to breath.

"This just makes it that much harder to breathe and all the impacts that come from that," she said. "Emergency room visits, heart attacks."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation commissioned the New York School of Medicine to do a study to calculate the potential medical costs from the 1100 tons of nitrous oxides released by the incinerator each year.

"Causes about $55 million in health impacts annually, and that's not confined to Maryland," Prost said. "That is Maryland and other downwind states. If you look just at Maryland, it's $21 million in health impacts annually."

It's unusual for the Bay Foundation to do a health study of an incinerator that also helps clean the Bay. The tons of trash collected by the trash wheel to ease pollution of the Harbor and Bay is burned at the plant, but because nitrous oxide from power plants causes nitrogen pollution in the Bay, the foundation works to limit it.

The human health impacts are a new angle in that effort.

"The reality is healthy communities are a healthy bay," Prost said.

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