Click here to register for our next meeting: Thursday, June 24 @ 7PM
CHESTER RESIDENTS! Sign the Petition - Ban the Burn!
DELCO RESIDENTS! Sign the Petition - Ban the Burn!

Did you know that the largest trash incinerator in the U.S. is located in Chester, PA?

Chester, Pennsylvania is a small city south of Philadelphia and located in Delaware County. The city spans 6.1 square miles with 34,000 residents, and is also home to the largest trash incinerator in the country (Covanta), a sewage waste treatment facility and sludge incinerator (DELCORA), 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 in Chester.  Incinerators and toxic companies target low-income areas and communities of color because they are seen as the path of least resistance.



Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL, pronounced "circle") has been leading the fight against environmental racism in Chester, PA since 1992.  CRCQL is a community-led activist group led by Chester residents and those concerned with local health and environmental justice.  CRCQL is leading the CHESTER ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT and demand an end to toxic trash incineration at the Covanta facility in Chester, increased emission standards for other polluters along the Delaware River, and advocating for clean air and Zero Waste resolutions across Delaware County to reduce waste.


  • Covanta's trash incinerator in Chester- also known as Delaware Valley Resource Recovery Facility- creates more air pollution and emits more particulate matter than any other such facility in the U.S., and is by far the largest. Exposure to particulate matter is known to cause cancer, asthma, decreased lung function, irregular heartbeats and premature death in people with heart or lung disease.
  • 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.
  • Chester's incinerator can burn up to 3,500 TONS of trash DAILY. Only 1.8% of the waste burned at Covanta is from Chester- a total 31% 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, Chester City Council approved the infrastructure to enable 20-30 years of trash trains from New York City to be burned in Chester, coming through Chester by train, then back into Chester by truck -- up to 500,000 tons of trash each year!
  • A 2010 study, found that 38.5% of children in Chester have asthma, which is FIVE TIMES the national average, and 3x the state 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.
  • Covanta's incinerator in Chester has less pollution controls than nearly all other incinerators in the county. It lacks mercury and nitrogen oxide (NOx) control systems. Nitrogen oxide exposure is linked to a variety of respiratory illnesses including bronchitis, emphysema, chronic asthma, and other respiratory issues.  Covanta is the worse incinerator in the nation for particulate matter pollution.  Exposure to NOx and particulate matter cause increased deaths from COVID-19.
  • Covanta is also one of the worst lead polluters in the city. Lead poisoning can lead to cognitive delays, behavioral issues and seizures. Exposure to lead in childhood has been associated with increases in aggression, decreases in impulse control, and decreases in IQ. Studies have found that communities exposed to air pollution are more likely to have violent crimes.
  • 81% of Delco's trash is incinerated at Covanta Chester. 17% is sent to Fairless Landfill in Bucks County, PA.

Learn more in this May 2021 powerpoint with an overview of the waste issues in Delco!