A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 OCTOBER 1994

Our Response to the Threat of
Legal Action over Rigo Comments.

PART 3 of 3-Part Series. We were surprised by the fact that Dr. Rigo was prepared to use the March 1994 test results to predict an annual current emission rate of 141 grams dioxin TEQ for the Columbus incinerator8. The Columbus incinerator operator’s own logs indicate quite clearly that the waste was specially prepared for this test burn and thus not typical of the way waste is handled on a day-to-day basis. In this respect, we would be interested to hear Dr. Rigo’s comment on the statements that appeared in the operator’s log and cited in Waste Not # 302, for example:

Feb. 15, 1994:  “We must have a ‘good        Feb. 21, 1994:“...Once again, inform all     
source’ of trash for the test.  Hold the     crane operators to hold north end            
north end trash.”                            trash...This test is our future...”          

Finally, we think it is worth referencing the draft report recently published by the U.S. EPA9. In these documents the U.S. EPA indicate that their estimate of the total dioxin TEQ emissions from all U.S. trash incinerators combined is within the range of 1300 -6700 grams per year and that, in their view trash incinerators represents the second largest source of dioxins entering the air in the U.S. While this figure is considerably lower than the 24,000 gram estimate cited by Cleverly et al in 199110 (based upon EPA reports published in 198711) it is considerably higher than the 850 gram total of Dr. Rigo and his notion that trash incineration represents only 2.6 percent of the grand total of dioxin entering the U.S. is becoming less and less tenable.

Of critical importance to the citizens of Columbus, Ohio, is that there is no evidence to suggest that the dioxin emissions from the Columbus incinerator are anything but an imminent hazard to public health. If the Columbus health authorities do not want to spend the large amount of money to retrofit this facility (and we agree that this is throwing good money after bad) then they should shut down the facility forthwith. The problem is not going to be solved by public relations efforts by Mr. Pompili or anyone else. The recent U.S. EPA dioxin reassessment documents amply underline the fact that dioxin is very bad for all living things. There is too much dioxin present in the general environment and there is far too much going into the Columbus environment. Whether one takes the estimates from the U.S. EPA or Dr. Rigo, the Columbus incinerator represents an unacceptably high percentage of the total dioxin emitted by U.S. incinerators and an unacceptably high percentage of all dioxin entering the U.S. environment. Rhetoric won’t reduce the dioxin contamination in either the U.S. or Columbus, but closing down the Columbus incinerator will.

1. See Waste Not # 270 for the text of William Sanjour’s January 12,1994, memo to EPA Administrator Carol Browner.

2. Schaum, J., Cleverly, D., et al, “Sources of Dioxin-Like Compounds and Background Exposure Levels,” Dioxin ‘93, 13th International Symposium on Chlorinated Dioxins and Related Compounds, Vienna, September 1993. Organohalogen Compounds, Vol 14.

3. In November, Fred Porter of the US EPA denied our Freedom of Information Act request for the locations and results of the 1994 dioxin tests performed at 12 U.S. incinerators that operate with only an ESP for pollution control.

4. Risk Assessment of Potential Health Effects of Dioxins and Dibenzofurans Emitted from the Columbus Solid Waste Authority’s Reduction Facility. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Div. of Air Pollution Control, Feb 28, 1994.

5. Ibid, Page 9, paragraph 10.

6. Ibid, Page 6, paragraph 7.

7. Ibid, Page 7, paragraph 8.

8. Dr. Rigo’s letter to Mr. Pompili dated September 15, 1994. See Waste Not # 303.

9. U.S. EPA, Estimating Exposure to Dioxin-Like Compounds. Volume II: Properties, Sources, Occurrence and Background Exposures, External Review Draft, released September 13, 1994, EPA/600/6-88-005CB, Chapter 3, page 9.

10. Cleverely, D., et al, “Regulatory Analysis of Pollutant Emissions, Including Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-Dioxins (CDDs) and Dibenzofurans (CDFs), from Municipal Waste Combustors,” pp 47--65, Health Effects of Municipal Waste Incineration, H.A. Hattemer-Frey & C. Travis, editors, 1991, CRC Press, Inc.

11. U.S. EPA, “Assessment of municipal waste combustor emissions under the Clean Air Act,” Federal Register, 52, 25399, 1987.

CONCLUSION: Attorney Paul Merrell, of the law firm Bradley & Merrell (Tidewater, Oregon), generously agreed to represent Waste Not in this matter. Paul forwarded a draft copy of our response (Waste Not 303-305) to Mr. Diamant, offering his client, Dr. Rigo, the opportunity to comment on our response, which we were prepared to publish in this issue. The following is Mr. Diamant’s reply. We regret that Dr. Rigo declined to elaborate on any of his calculations or substantiate Mr. Diamant’s claim that our conclusions were based upon “selective, inaccurate, incomplete and defective data.” Meanwhile, as reported in the following issue of Waste Not, the Columbus authorities have decided to close down their ill-fated trash incinerator, after just 11 years of costly operation, instead of paying for an expensive retrofit. We believe this sends a clear message to many other communities in the U.S. saddled with incinerator dinosaurs: “it’s cheaper to shut them down.”

WASTE NOT # 305. 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 $US50; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.