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After months of debate, Hartford trash-burning plant now officially closed

The Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority trash-to-energy plant in Hartford, Conn.
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
The Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority trash-to-energy plant in Hartford, Conn.

After decades of burning garbage, the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority said Wednesday it has officially shut down its trash incinerator in Hartford.

Leadership at the company said combustion of garbage at its South Meadows facility ceased at 1:56 a.m. on Tuesday, July 19.

The announcement follows months of debate about the future of the state-owned facility that came in the wake of a rejected redevelopment plan, mechanical breakdowns and falling energy prices.

MIRA President and CEO Tom Kirk told Connecticut Public last week that prices for the power produced by burning garbage at South Meadows fell by about 70%, making it “a little bit cheaper” for towns to send their waste to out-of-state landfills.

MIRA saw a large share of its member towns opt out of contracts with the agency in recent months, choosing to send their trash to private haulers.

For member towns that are still contracted with MIRA, garbage that would have gone to South Meadows will now be sent to transfer stations in Torrington and Essex – those are temporary spots for garbage.

MIRA will continue to operate peaking power generators at the site until May of next year and is now turning its attention to decommissioning the South Meadows site, Kirk said via email Wednesday.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said it is working to reduce the amount of state trash that will be sent to out-of-state landfills as a result of MIRA’s closure.

The agency said it is partnering with dozens of towns to explore alternative disposal options, including waste reduction and food waste recycling.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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