Did you know the LARGEST trash incinerator in the U.S. is located in Chester, Delaware County?


Chester, a small city south of Philadelphia, which spans 6.1 square miles and has 34,000 residents, is home to the largest trash incinerator in the country (Covanta), a sewage waste treatment facility and sludge incinerator (DELCORA), a paper mill burning waste coal and petroleum coke (Kimberly-Clarke),
 chemical manufacturing plants, and other polluting industries. 


Over a century of systemic racism and political corruption has transformed the historic waterfront city on the Delaware River into a toxic regional waste hub and ONE OF THE WORST CASES OF ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM IN THE U.S.  Polluting industries have led to devastating consequences on community health and quality of life for the majority low-income black and brown community that lives here. Incinerators and 

toxic companies target low-income areas and communities of color because they are seen as the path of least resistance.



Since 1992, Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL, pronounced "circle") has been leading the fight against environmental racism in Chester, PA.  CRCQL is a grassroots activist group led by Chester 

residents and those concerned with local health and environmental justice. In alliance with Delco 

Environmental Justice, together we are demanding an end to toxic trash incineration at the Covanta facility in Chester, higher emission standards for other polluters along the Delaware River, and advocating for a just and sustainable future for Chester City and Delaware County. 


Sign up to learn more about demanding justice for Chester!! 



  • Covanta, Chester's trash incinerator- also known as Delaware Valley Resource Recovery Facility- emits more pollution and particulate matter than any other such facility in the U.S., and is by far the largest. 2nd in line is Covanta's Camden facility, just across the Delaware River from Chester.  Exposure to particulate matter can cause asthma, decreased lung function, irregular heartbeats and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

  • Chester's incinerator burns more than 3,500 TONS of trash DAILY. 

  • Only 1.6% of the waste burned at Covanta is from Chester- a total 30% of the waste is from Delaware County and the remaining 70% is brought in by truck or rail from NYC, New Jersey and Philadelphia. In 2014, Covanta incinerator received a permit allowing them to receive 500,000 tons of trash each year from NYC.

  • A 2010 study, found that 38.5% of children in Chester have asthma- FIVE TIMES the national average! 25% of adults in Chester have asthma and are more likely to develop lung cancer, ovarian cancer and die from stroke or heart disease than other DelCo residents.

  • Incineration is the worst way to process trash and emit most pollutants at a greater rate than coal-fired power plants. It costs more money to produce energy from municipal solid waste than it does from most other sources. 

  • The Chester incinerator has weaker pollution controls than most other incinerators-  it lacks both mercury and Nitrous Oxide (NO x) control systems. NO x can lead to a variety of respiratory illnesses including bronchitis, emphysema, chronic asthma and other respiratory issues, making respiratory viruses like Covid-19 more dangerous to residents.