A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 December 6, 1990


In issues 123 and 124 of Waste Not we reported high dioxin emissions from the Rome, NY, trash incinerator. However, in a letter from David Prosser of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to the Oneida County Solid Waste Authority, dated Nov 30, 1990, it was pointed out that the company that made the measurements and did the calculations (E-Three Inc., Buffalo, NY) made a mistake in their calculations (they got some of the toxic equivalent factors for dioxins and furans wrong) and instead of the reported 40.2 dioxin toxic equivalents/dscm corrected to 7% oxygen it should have been 6.06 ng. While this brings the emission levels down closer to the permit level, citizens in the Rome area remain concerned and rightly so, for the following reasons:

1. This value is still some 60 times higher than the new German standard for trash incinerators.

2. The reported levels are based upon a limited amount of data, and it is a leap of faith to assume that these emission numbers collected under essentially ideal conditions, can be used to gauge the cumulative impacts on the environment.

3. The permit levels for this plant were based upon health risk assessments which did not include a consideration of the build-up of dioxins in the foodchains. This is a highly relevant omission because:
a. the incinerator is surrounded by a considerable amount of agricultural land.
b. the German standard is more stringent than NY standards precisely because they do take exposure to dioxin via the foodchains seriously.

To gauge how seriously the NY DEC considers foodchain exposure, one simply has to look at their track record. They permitted (June 1990) a trash incinerator to be built in St. Lawrence County (fortunately it was defeated politically) even though this county is the biggest milk producing county in NY State. They have recently re-permitted the Cuba, NY, incinerator, even though it is fitted with no air pollution control equipment and it is surrounded by 150 dairy farms which send their milk to the Cuba cheese factory, to which the incinerator supplies steam!! This process is called “Grandfathering”. Perhaps its about time to get the grandfathers out of the DEC.

“Dioxin tests fail to stack up; firm sorry about bogus report...It turns out that those who couldn’t believe the numbers were right. That’s because the company hired for $30,000 to do the testing made a mistake...Edward R. Nesselbeck, president of E-Three, said he was given the incorrect toxicity factors over the phone by an individual in the state Department of Health, prior to the 1989 test. Nesselbeck was given a toxicity factor of 1, when in fact it should have been 0.01. ‘The net result was a reported dioxin emission rate varying from five to 10 times higher than actual, he said. ‘This has proved to be a most embarrassing situation for E-Three...As a result of the corrected figures, the authority voted unanimously to discontinue plans for stack tests at the ERF the week of Dec. 17...This will save the authority about $30,000 in unbudgeted expenses...David W. Prosser, regional air pollution control engineer for the DEC, was present at the authority meeting and said the incorrect toxicity factor wasn’t found when the 1989 test was reviewed because a problem wasn’t suspected. ‘It was given a cursory review, and there you had a number that looked OK,’ he said. ‘When you get a number that’s out of the ballpark, obviously you look a lot closer at the numbers’...Daily Sentinel, Rome, NY, 12-4-90, page 2.

The results of citizens’ tests for pollutants
near the Warren County, NJ, 400 tpd
mass-burn incinerator:

December 4th: Citizens in Warren County release the results of tests from water samples taken from a stream that is approx 1/4 mile from the Warren County incinerator. The samples were analyzed by the Citizen’s Environmental Laboratory in Boston. The results were presented to the Warren County Pollution Control Financing Authority (PCFA) on Dec 4th. The results were:

Toxic Metal Normal Range Test Result

Lead 20 ppb 11,700 ppb

Cadmium 8 ppb 65 ppb

Chromium 20 ppb 54 ppb

Zinc 100 ppb 1,580 ppb

Copper 100 ppb 710 ppb

pH level 5.00 - 8.00 12.01

Statement by Marco Kaltofen, Laboratory Director, who conducted the tests: “The levels of lead, cadmium, and chromium were above primary Federal drinking standards. The severely elevated lead, cadmium, and pH are indicative of hazardous levels of industrial contamination. Under no circumstances is this water fit for human or animal consumption or contact.”

December 6th: Upon the request of the Warren County PCFA the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) take six samples at three different points in the stream.

December 9th & l0th: The Warren County PCFA moved all the ash containers (more than 40) to inside the facility’s security fence. For the last two years, the ash containers had been in the same location at the incinerator facility. According to Michael Colby, director of Food & Water Inc., the ash containers “leak a dark liquid during rainstorms, and that liquid contains toxins from the ash which run into the stream. He challenged PCFA members and the public to join him at the containers during the next storm to see them leak. Colby said the containers, which had been stored in a lot outside the facility fence, were moved two days after he made his charges. ‘It doesn’t take much to connect the dots. It’s obvious that they’re trying to hide evidence from the public,’ Colby asserted. He charged that the ash containers are faulty and that water runs right through, adding, ‘Simply hiding it behind a fence is not going to make it safe’...The Star-Ledger, 12-11-90.

December 13th: The Warren County PCFA released the test results from the NJ DEP tests. The DEP test results were in the normal range. They announced the results at a press conference where it was also announced that they would “turn the matter over to the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, adding they have information that a water sample indicating pollution was tampered with and that incinerator ash was used in the tampering. Michael Colby, director of the environmental group Food & Water Inc., ‘categorically’ denied any tampering with water samples had taken place. He issued results of another test that again showed hazardous levels of lead in the stream near the incinerator in Oxford, although the level was less severe... Colby reiterated that water runs through the ash containers and into the stream during foul weather, saying the PCFA’s tests are irrelevant because samples were not taken after a rainstorm, as his were...Colby contended the PCFA is saying the samples were tampered with to quiet its critics, noting, ‘It’s very disturbing.” The Star-Ledger, 12-14-90.

The Citizens’ Environmental Laboratory provides testing services for groups and individuals. Their address is: 1168 Commonwealth Avenue, 3rd Fl, Boston, MA 02134. Tel: 617-232-0327. For more information contact: Michael Colby, Food & Water, 41 Main Street, Box 770, Blairstown, NJ 07825. Tel: 201-362-8800, or Anna Maria Caldara at 201-362-8805.

WASTE NOT # 128 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Individual $40; Students & Seniors $35; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian Subscriptions $US45. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.