A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 May 17, 1990
MASSACHUSETTS: WHEELABRATOR AT FAULT IN FATAL ACCIDENT AT 1,200 TPD INCINERATOR IN SAUGUS. It was a fatal mistake that shouldnt have happened. If Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. had practiced what it had preached about employer safety Manuel Jachinto might still be alive. Thats the conclusion of officials at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after the agency slapped Wheelabrator with a $9,000 penalty for a willful safety violation that investigators claim contributed to the February death of Jachinto, a long-time worker at the companys RESCO trash-to-energy plant in Saugus. No question at all. It (the workers death) definitely could have been avoided, insists K. Frank Gravitt, area director of OSHAs Boston area north office. The violation cited in this case is what we consider to be the most serious. And it suggests that the employer was aware of a hazard, it failed to take action to eliminate or correct the hazard. This accident shouldnt have happened. Jachinto, 47, of North Attleboro, died of head injuries suffered in a 32-foot fall off a crane catwalk where he was doing maintenance work. Jachinto apparently lost his balance when a large wrench he was using to fasten clamps on a closing cable slipped from a clamp, according to initial reports of the February 10, 1990, accident. Wheelabrator officials declined comment on the findings of the OSHA investigation. Our people are involved in discussions with the OSHA representatives. Until we settle the case we will have no formal response, said Wheelabrator spokesman Kevin Stickney. We plan to sit down and meet with them in the next two weeks, he said. Stickney had said in previous interviews that company officials didnt expect the federal government to find Wheelabrator at fault in the mishap. Jachinto had the option to use a safety belt, but its generally accepted that belts are hazardous in that particular area, Stickney said back in February, adding that OSHA is satisfied the company exercised proper safety procedures under the circumstances. Apparently not, based on a citation and a notification of penalty OSHA issued on May 9. Employees were exposed to the hazard of falling to the floor below when standing or working on the trolley platform, of both the east and west cranes, according to a document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. We found instances of the same violation occurring at two different locations of the plant within a couple of hours of the accident, said Gravitt. The worker definitely should have been wearing a belt, and there should have been a railing in place to have prevented his fall. I think this unfortunate accident points out very clearly that unsafe working conditions can result in fatalities which it did in this case, he said. Until February Wheelabrator officials said they had a perfect safety record. But February was also the first in the plants 15-year history that it had been subjected to a safety inspection by OSHA, according to Gravitt. 5-20-90. North Shore Sunday newspaper.
MASSACHUSETTS: 15 YEARS INTO INCINERATOR CONTRACTS AT THE SAUGUS INCINERATOR. Ten communities that bring their waste to the Wheelabrator-owned incinerator in Saugus have sent a letter to Wheelabrators Refuse Energy Systems Co. (RESCO) responding to RESCOs notification of an escalation in tip fees from $22 per ton to $79.50 per ton. The ten communities stated in the May 16, 1990, letter that:
l. It rejects the cost RESCO wishes to pass on to the communities after the additions or alterations to the facility. 2. It intends to contest any efforts by RESCO to pass on any improper, illegal or excessive costs. 3. It regards RESCOs efforts to coerce the communities into paying more than they are required to pay under existing contracts, as unfair and deceptive practices in violation of Massachusetts general law, Chapter 93-A..
The letter stated that the $79.50 tip fee presented to the communities, along with the excessive estimates of the cost of pollution abatement work at the facility, are furtherance of RESCOs scheme to deprive them of the benefits of their current advantageous agreements with RESCO. The communities believe that a tip fee of $56 per ton would be more reasonable. The State of Massachusetts mandated that the RESCO incinerator be retrofitted. The affected communities believe that Wheelabrator is trying to pass through all of the associated costs of the expensive retrofit that its numerous subsidiaries will be contracted for. The ten communities estimate that the litigation costs involved will cost each community $100,000 to $150,000. Saugus is still in a major tax dispute with RESCO over $1.3 million in back taxes that Saugus claims RESCO owes. The ten communities that signed the letter to Wheelabrator-owned RESCO are: Swampscott, Winthrop, Everly, Stoneham, Wakefield, Revere, Lynn, Malden, Melrose, and Reading.
INDIANA: NEWPORT RESIDENTS WERE PROMISED THAT AN ARMY INCINERATOR TO BE BUILT ONLY TO DESTROY A DEADLY NERVE AGENT NOW FIND THAT CONGRESS HAS DIRECTED THE ARMY TO STUDY USING THE INCINERATOR FOR DISPOSING OTHER, AS-YET-UNKNOWN, WASTES. Newport residents fumed when the Army was authorized to build an incinerator at the Newport Army Ammunition Plant to dispose of an estimated 4 million pounds of a deadly nerve agent stored there. Now they are furious again. Congress has directed the Army to study the feasibility of using the incinerator for purposes other than destruction of the nerve agent, VX, despite promises that the incinerator would be dismantled after the disposal of the nerve agent. Residents in this west-central Indiana community feel betrayed and fear that use of the incinerator for other purposes would bring other contaminated materials to the site for incineration. This is outrageous. We knew nothing about this, and it is one of the very things we were worried about, said Newport resident Genene Greenwell. Greenwell and other Newport residents learned Thursday that Congress had ordered the U.S. Department of Defense to report on the feasibility of using chemical weapon disposal facilities for additional purposes. The Army has hired Mitre Corp., a Massachusetts not-for-profit firm, to conduct the study of the Newport plant incinerator and those planned for sever other sites in the nation. Under current law, each of those incinerators is to be used only to dispose of deadly chemical agents stored there. We were reassured (more than a year ago) by (Army) Brigadier General (David) Nydham that the incinerator would be dismantled and taken down as soon as the VX was burned, Greenwell said. Nydham formerly headed the Armys efforts tp destroy chemical weapons. His successor, Army Col. Walter L. Busbee, on April 20 wrote to Newports commander, Capt. John C. Barlow, about Mitres study, which is to be completed by December. In his letter, Busbee said that some will see this as a breach of the Armys word. But the Army was mandated by Congress to make the study, Barlow said. I need an incinerator to thermally decontaminate the VX production plant, Barlow said. There could be cost savings if the incinerator built here is adapted to get rid of the agent and the plant. It would allow this installation to rid itself of a production facility in an environmentally safe manner. However, the study places no limits on studying what the incinerators could be used for. Greenwell was a member of a group of concerned citizens that conducted a 1987 study financed by the Army to determine whether an incinerator should be used to dispose of VX at the Newport plant - the most lethal nerve agent in the militarys arsenal. It has been stored at the plant since 1968. The army told residents that a drop the size of a pinhead on the skin of an average-size man would result in death within three to 10 minutes. After several months of investigation, including input from experts, the group called for an end to the idea of incinerating VX at Newport. But Congress still authorized it. Current plans call for the first incinerator under construction - at Tooele Army Depot in Utah - to operate from late 1993 through 1998. Construction of other incinerators will begin in 1991. The incinerator at Newport is expected to be under construction in 1993, with incineration of VX during 1996 and 1997. Lane Ralph, an aide to U.S. Sens. Richard G. Lugar and Dan Coats, both Indiana Republicans, called the study to determine other uses for the incinerators goofy. Everything thats been done to develop the incinerator has been geared to the nature of the material (that will be incinerated). There have been strong commitments to the public about safety and I dont think this is feasible. The regulatory permits would need to be changed. Were talking about rethinking the whole system. Congress direction for the feasibility study was just one appropriation in a huge appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. Lugar and Coats voted for the appropriations legislation. U.S. Rep. John T. Myers, R-Ind., is the only Indiana congressman on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. Newport is in his district, but he did not notify residents of the study, Greenwell said. Lasca R. Low, an aide to Myers, said Thursday that Myers is interested in the studys conclusions. Indiana Star, 4-27-90.