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Aquadale - Solite facilityIn 1983, Solite began burning hazardous waste to heat the large ovens used to bake cement blocks. This was a cost-saving measure. Solite was paid to accept waste by other companies across the east coast. Solite burned up to 62 million pounds of hazardous waste each year from 1983 to 1991. The emissions, as measured by Solite in 1995, contained 33 toxic pollutants and carcinogens. These substances have been associated with a variety of ailments, including nausea, damage to blood vessels, lung damage, and anemia, as well as other health problems.

When Solite began burning hazardous waste, state laws did not require the state or the company to disclose its practices to neighboring communities. Even after the community learned about the hazardous waste incineration in 1988, Solite was exempt from state and federal hazardous waste incineration laws until the early 1990s because burning hazardous waste to produce a product (cement blocks) was classified as recycling.


“The air was so bad it made me sick. And the air was just terrible; it burned your eyes, it burned your throat. And it was just thick with some kind of dust or debris of some sort that was just like sand hitting you in the face.”
– Community Member


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[Photo courtesy of Louis Zeller, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League]