Detroit Renewable Energy closing incinerator today

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Detroit will no longer burn its trash.

In a press release issued Wednesday afternoon, Detroit Renewable Energy announced its intention to close its "waste-to-energy facility" at 2 p.m..

"Now that the company has decided to close the incinerator, the city will soon have the ability to influence the future use of this property," said Mayor Mike Duggan in a statement.

The facility, located near Interstates 94 and 75 and long known for emitting odors that have upset residents in the surrounding area, will be switching to natural gas for its energy production, using steam to heat buildings downtown. 

CEO Todd Grzech described the move as underscoring the company's commitment to the city's economy and environment. 

"Serving our community and being a good neighbor for years to come is our number one priority," he said. "The decision ends the odor, noise and other community nuisances, and allows Detroit Thermal to focus on investing where it matters."

Detroit Thermal, which is owned by Detroit Renewable Energy, supplies steam heat from the incinerator through underground pipes to more than 100 buildings in the city, including the Renaissance Center and the Detroit Medical Center. The switch to natural gas will not interrupt power flow to those buildings.

About 150 employees received their layoff notices today as well.

The site has struggled to keep up with environmental regulations after foul odors and noises for years, including a class-action lawsuite against the facility. Following more than $23 million in improvements, the CEO decided that enough was enough.

"You look at it from an engineering perspective, we have to fix the noise, we haev to fix the odor and you add it all in and it doesn't make sense any more," said Grzech.

For these reasons, Duggan mentioned the city has little intention for the site to feature a waste-incinerator in the future.

"We will be pursuing our legal options to make sure this remains the case," said Duggan.

The incinerator took on more than 3,000 pounds of garbage a day. That trash will now be sent to a landfill. For anyone concerned about a change in rates, the city's contract with Detroit Renewable Energy is locked in which means that rates won't change.