|Keep General Environmental Management closed|
The General Environmental Management (GEM) facility in Cleveland's Flats had a major explosion on Thursday April 20th. The explosion sent a large metal tank 40 feet into the air, rocked houses two miles away, and caused a three-alarm fire. Chemicals and smoke covered downtown Cleveland and surrounding neighborhoods. Five GEM workers were taken to the hospital with second and third degree burns. Water contaminated with acids, oils, and volatile organic compounds seeped into a tributary of the Cuyahoga River. The Fire Department has shut the GEM facility down "indefinitely while the fire is being investigated.
GEM has a history of environmental violations, including significant noncompliance citations by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and improper storage of hazardous waste. Workers at the Orange Avenue post office, Cuyahoga Community College, nearby businesses, and neighboring homes have been experiencing sickening odors from GEM over the past year.
However, the odors have been only the symptom of the problem at GEM they are not the cause. During its operations, GEM appears to be routinely venting toxic chemicals into the air of the surrounding neighborhoods.
Citizen Action's testing revealed dangerous levels of benzene and hydrogen sulfide coming from the GEM facility. Benzene is a cancer-causing substance and hydrogen sulfide is a respiratory irritant.
GEM wants to reopen, but Mayor Frank Jackson of Cleveland has not yet decided whether to allow GEM to continue operating. Given the history of violations and the health and safety problems at GEM, this facility should remain closed.
Please call or write Mayor Jackson