A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 March 1993

East Liverpool, Ohio
Von Roll/WTI Hazardous Waste Incinerator

1. Yes to 8 day Trial Burn only. Decision delivered on Friday, March 5, by Judge Ann Aldrich.

2. No burning allowed after the Trial Burn. The U.S. EPA to make its decision on whether to permit WTI to operate after the stack emissions tests are analyzed and, after the U.S. EPA prepares a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) that assesses the risks of the uptake in the food chain. [The HRA will then have to go through a public hearing and public comment period.]

3. Von Roll is furious with the decision and appealed it on Monday, March 8.

The Background: Judge Ann Aldrich’s decision represents a major setback for Von Roll because they cannot begin commercial operation until a thorough health risk assessment has been conducted by EPA based upon the emission data from the Trial Burn. Prior to this decision, EPA estimated this process would take approximately one year. The Plaintiffs were successful in focusing in on the long term health risks. We asked West Virginia Assistant Attorney General, Mary Anne Maul, for her opinion on the decision. According to Maul, Judge Aldrich issued “a carefully crafted opinion taking into consideration all the testimony and evaluating it according to its weight and credibility.” The decision “indicates that public health considerations should be the most important [factor] in permitting hazardous waste incinerators. Her analysis of the merits shows that she put the most weight on the testimony concerning EPA’s [Dioxin] Reassessment and EPA’s staff Health Screening estimate. Both of those documents, even though in draft form, suggests that dioxin risks have been underestimated in the past and require review of existing and proposed facilities under more stringent standards.” The Trial Burn was allowed “only because it was not shown that the 8 day Trial Burn would pose a health endangerment.” We asked Maul whether the Guimond Memo (see Waste Not #226) was entered into evidence. Maul said that the EPA Health Risk Assessment cited in the Guimond Memo “was done under request from the U.S. Justice Department.” The memo is considered to be confidential under attorney-client privilege and was not admissible. Although the memo was not admissible, there was extensive discussion of it during the Hearing. WTI filed an injunction against Aldrich’s decision on Monday, March 8, in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Greenpeace filed a response to WTI’s injunction on March 10. It is not clear whether the 6th Circuit Court will ask for a hearing on WTI’s injunction.


WTI’s Contractor for Stack Testing: ENSR1

According to Gary Victorine of U.S. EPA Region V the trial burn commenced on Tuesday, March 9th. Sampling of the stack emissions didn’t start until March 10th. Victorine said the trial burn will take 8 days. The majority of the stack testing is being done by WTI’s contractor ENSR1. [Waste Not has discovered that ENSR has a direct link to another European-owned hazardous waste incinerator firm operating in the U.S.] The U.S. EPA is using MRI (Midwest Research Institute) as a sub-contractor to assist U.S. EPA & Ohio EPA in observing and auditing ENSR’s testing. The Ohio EPA will be doing some sampling of what goes into the incinerator as well as ash coming out. Ohio EPA is monitoring the ash. West Virginia is testing ambient air from the WTI incinerator. Pennsylvania DER is observing the Trial Burn. Under the permit, WTI has a maximum of 90 days to get the results of the sampling and analysis of the Trial Burn to U.S. EPA.


Phase 2: Uptake in food Chains: U.S. EPA is “pursuing” ENVIRON to prepare assessment.

According to Gary Victorine of U.S. EPA Region V: The Phase 2 Health Risk Assessment (HRA) will be based on actual emission data and will use one year of local meteorological data. In response to questions on meteorology monitoring Victorine said: “WTI purchased and installed, under supervision of U.S. EPA, the location of the air monitors. [There are] 2 different towers on [WTI’s] site...one of those towers gathers information at 10 meters and 30 meters in the air, the other only at 10 meter height. The company [WTI] has one more [air monitor] near the school. The U.S. EPA is not involved with” WTI on the monitor at the school. ENVIRON prepared the first HRA for U.S. EPA Region V that assessed risks on inhalation only.

National Public Radio (NPR) on WTI, “All Things Considered,” March 10, 1993.

One of NPR’s major sponsors is WASTE MANAGEMENT INC. (WMI). Four major omissions from NPR’s report were: (1) The construction firm, Rust International, that built WTI is owned by WMI; WMI has contracts to be the primary hauler of waste to WTI; WMI has the contracts to landfill WTI’s wastes. (2) The track record of hazardous waste incinerators in the U.S. (3.) Siting criteria enacted in August 1984 by the Ohio State Legislature which prevents the siting of such facilities within 2,000 feet of homes, hospitals, and schools. --WTI began building its incinerator in 1990 in violation of that criteria. (4.) No mention of the fact that Dr. Edgar Berkey, interviewed in this broadcast, was paid by WTI for a Sept. 1991 report on WTI’s incinerator. Dr. Berkey is President of the Center for Hazardous Materials Research [CHMR] at the Univ. of Pittsburgh. According to a Greenpeace press release of 10-3-91: “In a list that was compiled of the nation’s worst polluting facilities in 1987, the owners of 8 of the top 15 polluting facilities were clients or funders of CHMR.” A few excerpts from the broadcast:

John Nielson [NPR reporter]: “...Essentially, says Zellick [WTI’s Plant manager], two things come out of this kiln [WTI’s haz. waste incinerator], compact bricks of hazardous ash to be shipped away to special landfills, and, out of the 150 foot smoke stack wisps of steam and carbon dioxide.

Jeff Zellick (WTI’s Plant Manager): “So in effect, by incinerating and stabilizing the material you forever handled the hazardous waste and you don’t have to worry about your kids or future generations trying to clean up your past sins for burying the material...

John Nielson [NPR reporter]: “Now in some parts of East Liverpool the arrival of this incinerator has been hailed as something of a Godsend. Council member McKinnon hopes that it will turn the town’s economy around by expanding the tax base and attracting new businesses. McKinnon talks to a lot of people about this plant and she says they know first hand about the need for a way to dispose of hazardous waste.

Doris McKinnon [Member of the Columbiana County Progress Council]: “When I talk to some of the men on the power lines that go around and survey and so on and they told me they were sloshing. And that was their word. Sloshing through waste that was just laying out in the field. We had an incident not too long ago where a young man took his trucks out along the road, just opened the pit cocks on the back and let the oil fly and anything else that he happened to have. He’s got no place else to put it. There’s no way with doing away with this. Incineration will reduce it to a brick. And then that brick will be taken to a landfill that’s provided specifically for that brick.

Joe Thornton [Greenpeace]: “...This hazardous waste incinerator, like all others, will emit huge quantities of unburned wastes, like pesticides, solvents, and other industrial chemicals; heavy metals like lead and mercury; and then thousands of other new chemicals that are actually produced during the burning process -they don’t exist in the original waste, and these include such ultratoxic chemicals as dioxins, PCBs and many others.

John Nielson [NPR reporter]: “Now everyone in the incinerator business will admit there is a grain of truth in Thornton’s statement. Hazardous waste incinerators, including this one, put toxic substances into the air. The EPA allows one ten-thousandth of most of the toxics burned in these plants to come out of the smokestack. But while defenders of the plant concede that much to their opponents, they do not concede that this incinerator is a significant source of pollution. The defenders note that under the Clean Air Act incinerators like this one are categorized as minor pollution sources, like dry cleaners or gas stations. They say this incinerator will put out about as much dioxin as fire places in local homes. Edgar Berkey, a hazardous waste specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, says the bottom line on health risks should be clear. By all official standards, he says, emissions from this plant are simply not a threat to public health.

Edgar Berkey [University of Pittsburgh]: “...I think the whole industry is at risk if an outcome here of this particular [WTI] facility is that even after having gone through nearly a decade of regulatory approvals that a group of fanatical people can keep it from functioning and operating. That will send a very negative message to the environmental industry, it will send a negative message to foreign investors who are looking to the U.S. as a place to invest and provide jobs...”

1 In Waste Not # 166 we noted that ENSR Consulting & Engineering, ENSR Health Sciences, ENSR Operations, and, ENSR Remediation & Construction are 100% owned subsidiaries of American NuKEM Corp. American NuKEM Corp. is a 100% owned subsidiary of German NuKEM GmbH. According to the Wall Street Journal, 6-22-90, page A-5, NuKEM GmbH “ran into trouble in 1987, following charges of bribery of government officials and breaking rules in shipping and storing nuclear materials in early 1988.” Stephen R. Beck is President of American NuKEM and was appointed President and CEO of ENSR on 5-17-90. At the time of NuKEM’s takeover, annual revenues were: American NuKEM, $50 million; ENSR, $158 million. Some items of interest. (1.) NuKEM owns ThermalKEM, which owns and operates the disastrously run, violation-plagued ThermalKEM commercial hazardous waste incinerator in Rock Hill, South Carolina (see Waste Not # 167). (2) Nukem-owned ThermalKEM, has been trying to site a 5-state regional hazardous waste incinerator in N.C. for the last six years. ThermalKEM has been rejected by over 20 counties in N.C. due to massive citizen opposition (see Waste Not # 164). (3.) Up until June 1990, NuKEM GmbH was 35% owned by Degussa AG. Degussa was listed by Holocaust historian Raul Hillberg in The Destruction of the European Jews, as owning 42.5% in the “Share Holdings in the Extermination Industry.” (see Waste Not # 166). (6.) NuKEM GmbH was cited in a report commissioned by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, The Poison Gas Connection, for helping the governments of Iraq and Libya develop weapons of mass destruction. (For recent Waste Not subscribers who want to receive issues #164,166,167, please send a SASE. For non-subscribers, please send $2 per back issue.)

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