A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 July 11, 1991

Battling to keep East Liverpool, Ohio, off the map of injustice. Part 1.

The largest hazardous waste incinerator in the U.S. is under construction in East Liverpool within 1,200 feet of an elementary school. The school is situated on a hill ABOVE this facility.

Incinerator Technology: VON ROLL
Engineering Contractor: RUST INTERNATIONAL CORP.
Disposal capacity contract with: CHEMICAL WASTE MANAGEMENT

WHEELABRATOR owns Rust International WHEELABRATOR holds the American licence for VON ROLL technology. WASTE MANAGEMENT INC. owns Wheelabrator and Chemical Waste Management Ash to go to CHEM WASTE MANAGEMENT landfills.

Introduction: The myth peddled by promoters of the hazardous waste incineration industry is that they have technology which can safely destroy hazardous waste. The truth is that they have found a number of locations in the U.S. (17 to date) where communities have been persuaded (or tricked) to take the risks and liabilities that thousands of corporations get rid of by paying exorbitant prices. It is this export of risk and liability which is the basis of the profit made by the hazardous waste incineration industry. This is a formula in which the rich dump on the poor and the powerful on the weak. This is a formula of injustice.

One of the latest towns to be placed on this map of injustice is East Liverpool, Ohio. Even though this is actually one of the longest battles over a hazardous waste incinerator in the country -the project was first promoted in 1979- the permit granted in 1984 by the Ohio EPA had laid dormant for several years while the company, Waste Technology Industries (WTI) scrambled for backers. Now, with it becoming clearer and clearer that there are very few places left in the USA where this kind of activity can be pursued without exciting tremendous citizen opposition, the promoters are cashing in this old permit even though this location would not be permitted today and the emissions levels would not be allowed. With the support of an arrogant state authority, which refuses to confront either common sense questions about an absurd siting or the poor science of the original risk analysis, the plant is being built as fast as the builders can build it. The citizens, who have long battled valiantly against a sleeping monster, are now being run over by a moving train.

THE INCINERATOR. Two rotary kilns will be permitted to burn a total of 176,000 tons of liquid hazardous waste per year. This will make it the largest hazardous waste incinerator in the U.S. and possibly the world. In addition, the facility will be permitted to handle another 83,000 tons of inorganic waste. It will have a storage capacity of nearly 3 million gallons of pumpable liquid and 610,000 gallons of drum storage. WTI estimates that 11,000 trucks and 1,000 railcars of hazardous waste will be received each year. Originally the air pollution equipment proposed was an electrostatic precipitator and a wet scrubber, but after they encountered problems with their plan to dispose of the liquid waste from the wet scrubber, the company sought a modification to their permit which would allow them to take the wet effluent and spray it into the hot gases emerging from the boiler. The company claimed that the only effect of this modification would be to increase the amount of steam leaving the stack. Even though citizens produced experts to testify to the absurdity of this claim (any volatile material removed by the wet scrubber such as chlorinated organics and mercury would be revolatilized in the spray dryer and would eventually go out of the stack - this is the only place that it can go in the system as set up!!) the Ohio EPA glibly approved the modification, claiming that it would not lead to an increase in the levels of pollutant emissions approved in the 1984 permit. Such a claim tells us more about the weakness of the original permit than it does about the strength of scientific thinking at the Ohio EPA. They produced not one shred of science to support their decision. Even though officials from WTI point to an incinerator running in Beibesheim, Germany, equipped with similar air pollution control equipment, they failed to inform citizens that this same incinerator is having to add new devices in an effort to meet the tough new German standards for dioxins, furans and mercury.

THE LOCATION. East Liverpool is on the Ohio River. It is located at the conjunction of three states: Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Indeed, much of the pollution from the incinerator will fall across the river in West Virginia and on farmland in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is 37 air miles away. However, the governments of Pennsylvania and West Virginia were not part of the decision to permit this facility.

THE SITE. The incinerator is being built on the banks of the Ohio River, on an already polluted site owned by the Columbiana County Port Authority. People are living in houses just a few hundred feet from the site, and worse still, there is housing and an elementary school located on a hill above the site - just l,200 feet from the stack and slightly below the top of the stack. This means that these people will receive pollutants from the stack with very little dilution. Moreover, according to Allegheny County, PA, meteorological records, inversions occurred on 69% of the days in 1990. These inversions inhibit the normal rise of fog, pollution, etc., from the earth’s surface and during these periods the towns of East Liverpool and Chester, WV, (just across the river) will be exposed to higher ground level concentrations of pollutants than would occur on normal days. However, the model used by WTI in their 1983 risk analyses did not take this into account, they assumed 5 mph winds in their dispersion model, thus they underestimated the risks even for the very limited number of pollutants they considered. With the possible exception of Pontypool, Wales, this is the worst site for a hazardous waste incinerator I (PC) have ever seen. It is an example of supreme engineering hubris and regulatory arrogance that the site was ever considered, let alone approved. For what is being assumed here is that in its expected 20 years of operation (24 hours a day, 365 days a year) there will be no mechanical, electric, electronic, or human failures, because if there are, you do not need a Ph.D in toxicology to know that people -particularly the children in the elementary school (located on a hill above the incinerator) are going to be impacted. This is a realistic position based upon the track record of the commercial hazardous waste incineration industry in this county and abroad. Even the incinerator in Beibesheim, Germany, which WTI likes to cite as being state-of-the-art has had many fires and accidents (a videotape of this facility is available for $25 from Video Active Productions, Box 322, Route 2, Canton, NY 13617). This siting defies common sense and human decency. There is NO fail safe. The welfare of the people of East Liverpool, Chester, and beyond, are being sacrificed in the name of profit and bureaucratic expediency.

THE COMPANY: WASTE TECHNOLOGIES INDUSTRIES (WTI). As of August 20, 1990, Von Roll (America) has become the sole owner of WTI. Von Roll provides the furnaces for the trash incinerators built by Wheelabrator, which is now owned by Waste Management Inc. The plant is being built by Rust International, which is owned by Wheelabrator. According to an EPA “Record of Communication” from David Ullrich of 6-12-89, “CWM (Chemical Waste Management -owned by WMI) was no longer pursuing ownership of WTI. CWM had initiated the process over two years ago and had informed us at the outset, and several times over the two years, of their intention. Instead of actual ownership, CWM will have a long term contract for disposal capacity with WTI. Jodie [Jodie Bernstein of CWM] said the primary reason for the change was financial.” The ash from the facility will be sent to hazardous waste landfills owned by WMI in Wayne County, Indiana and Model City, NY. Local people believe that WMI avoided overt ownership of the operation because it would have triggered consideration of its unsavory track record under the “Bad Boy” law in Ohio. This record includes a $3.7 million dollar fine for its hazardous waste incinerator in Chicago, where monitoring devices weredisconnected.

WASTE NOT # 156 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.