Nearly a year after halting operations, a Matthews incinerator is expected to burn medical waste again.
Judy Drake, who lives nearby, is furious. She said it's obvious when the facility is in use.
"Black, greasy stuff that gets on your cars and clothes that doesn't wash out," she said.
Last year, Matthews town officials refused to approve changes to the facility that are required for it to meet new federal air quality standards in October 2012.
Town Manager Hazen Blodgett said in part in a statement: "We are concerned with this firm and whether or not their proposed changes would meet our zoning standards. Additionally, we have been sensitive to concerns raised by residents in this area."
The company that runs the incinerator, MNC Holdings, shut it down May 6 and talked about selling it.
But on Monday, Drake heard a familiar roar. The facility was burning natural gas.
"I did not know there was a loophole (so) that they could get it back open," she said.
Mecklenburg County's Air Quality Director Don Willard said it's not a loophole.
The incinerator can run until October, when the new standards take effect, and it's reopening now for one simple reason.
"If someone does not operate for 18 consecutive months, the director has the authority to void the permit," Willard said.
Over the phone, Rich Geisser, a consultant for MNC Holdings, said Willard is right.
He said the company doesn't want its permit to expire.
Willard said county officials will be supervising on Tuesday, when medical waste gets burned again.
"We know that there's a lot of concern in the community, so this one certainly gets extra attention," he said.
That doesn't satisfy Judy Drake.
"It's just sickening," she said. "It needs to stay shut down."
After Matthews town officials denied MNC Holdings' request to make changes at the incinerator, the company filed a lawsuit.
This month, a superior court ruled in its favor. The town of Matthews is appealing.