East Liverpool, Ohio demanding answers to poisonous incinerator

In East Liverpool, Ohio, the organization Save Our County Inc. has been fighting the Heritage Thermal Services incinerator for decades. Several months ago, the group met with the city’s Safety and Rules Committee to draft a list of questions to send to the EPA regarding their concerns for the incinerator. The community received a response from the EPA in December and are not satisfied with the answers. More questions were submitted to the EPA for further detail and the committee is awaiting advice on how to proceed. Read More.

Backyard Talk


no incineratorJUST SAY NO!
Susquehanna County citizens are in the fight for their lives.  They just recently learned that a new hazardous waste incinerator may be built in their community.
Hundreds of citizens are turning out for community meetings to discuss a hazardous waste incinerator that is being proposed in New Milford.  Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania is a county known for its grassroots citizens fighting polluting industry and for protecting their community.
Citizens have learned that the newly formed Tyler Corners Group, (an investment group) plans to build a hazardous waste incinerator.  Will this be a front group where the owner/s will hide their questionable dealings behind a smoke screen?  Or, will this group be up front and transparent with the community?  So far there is no proof that they will be upfront and transparent about on anything to do with the incinerator.
Just as expect, citizens are being told this will be in an industrial park and that it will be a boost to the area economy.  They are also being told there will be no emissions from the burner.  Well great, another magic burner!  And this burner will be state of the art, that means the last technology didn’t work.  One would have to wonder what other types of industry would want to be in the same park where there is a hazardous waste incinerator.
Citizens are attending township and county meetings, they have petitions being passed around getting signatures in opposition to the incinerator, they are asking local elected officials to develop and pass air ordinance’s that would protect the health of the community.  While the incinerator industry may have thought that they could ride into town and bring their hazardous waste with them and it would be business as usual, they did not think they would run into the opposition they are facing from the local citizens.   The POWER IS IN THE PEOPLE!
This facility is what  would be called a LULU (Locally Undesirable Land Use) facility.  This is described in greater detail in CHEJ’s “How to Deal With a Proposed Facility”.  You can get this publication on the CHEJ webpage at   Click on the tab “Take Action”, then click on organizing and leadership.  The publication will be the first on the list.
Please go to the groups Facebook page for more information.

Backyard Talk

ATSDR Fails Community Once Again

In July of 2013, an explosion occurred at the WTI/Heritage Thermal Services (HTS) hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, OH. Incinerator ash that had built up on the inside of the incinerator stack suddenly fell off causing a huge cloud of dust contaminated with heavy metals and other toxic substances to be released from the stack. An estimated 800 to 900 pounds of ash were released into the surrounding community. The plant manager advised residents to wash fruits and vegetables from their gardens and to replace food and water for pets and farm animals. Save Our County, a local group that has been fighting to shut down the incinerator for more than 20 years and other local residents were quite alarmed by what happened and asked whether this latest accident further put their health at risk.

The state regulating agency’s response was to invite the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate what risks the residents might have suffered. More than a year later, ATSDR released its report which concluded that the “trace amount of toxic metals in the surface and subsurface soils of the residential area west of the HTS facility affected by the July 2013 ash release are not expected to harm people’s health. The reason for this is that the concentration of these metals found in the soils are below levels of health concern.”

It’s not clear how ATSDR came to this conclusion when some of the data included in the report clearly show contaminant levels that exceeded levels of health concern. Two (of 13) soil samples, one on-site and one off-site, both downwind, had the highest levels of contaminants of concern (though they never disclosed what these levels were). The arsenic levels found in the surface soil of the surrounding community generally exceeded public health levels of concern, ranging from 14 to 57 parts per million (ppm), averaging 20 ppm. The public health level of concern is 15 ppm.

There is also data on two wipe samples (of 8) collected by HTS immediately after the accident that were found to contain 3,600 ppm arsenic; 13,000 ppm lead and 8,000 ppm nickel. These samples were collected from areas on-site where trucks at the facility were staged. These are all extraordinarily high and well above public health levels of concern.

Similarly, two wipe samples collected from the community had arsenic levels at 277 ppm and lead at 819 ppm, both levels well in excess of levels of public health concern. The report refers to a third sample collected from the surface of a black S10 pick-up truck with arsenic at 296 ppm and lead at 1,046 ppm also well above public health levels of concern.

Despite all of these results that exceeded public health levels of concern, ATSDR concluded that there is no cause for alarm and that the toxic metals released into the community “is not expected” to harm people’s health. It’s like someone at ATSDR wrote the conclusion without ever reading the report or looking at the data.

The ATSDR report simply ignores the data that exceeds public health levels of concern and draws its conclusions as though these high levels did not exist. How can anyone trust a government agency that operates this way?

This is what communities across the country have grown to expect from ATSDR – conclusions that are unresponsive to community concerns about potential health risks but protective of industrial pollution. Some things never change.