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East Liverpool's Alonzo Spencer wins first
At a 20th Anniversary dinner in Cleveland on November 15, 1995, Citizen Action gave the first Howard M. Metzenbaum Citizen Action Award to Alonzo Spencer, President of Save Our County in East Liverpool. The following are excerpts of Sen. Metzenbaum's remarks as he presented the award on behalf of Citizen Action.
Alonzo Spencer has led a brilliant fight against the WTI incinerator in East Liverpool.
I can't miss this opportunity to state my firm conviction that the WTI incinerator should be shut down, immediately and permanently.
The sordid history of the ownership and permitting of this plant are enough to warrant locking the door. All that aside, the plant is simply a public health menace: No school kid should be forced to breathe into their lungs the lead and other toxics this plant puts into the air 1,200 feet away.
And no incinerator should be sitting on the bank of the Ohio River. Any accident is a major disaster for every town and city down the Ohio River and into the Mississippi.
So, we honor Alonzo Spencer first because he is right. But being right is not enough.
Alonzo Spencer has also been tenacious, pursuing angle after angle in organizing opposition to the plant. No level of government, no jurisdiction has been safe from him.
Just when the company thinks they have him beaten, he's back. He's stubborn. He's my kind of citizen.
But he's been more than that -- because he knows you can't do this kind of thing on your own. Alonzo is the leader of a strong community organization dedicated to winning this fight, and they've been together for 15 years. That's a long time.
This remarkable group has faced the toughest odds, and made WTI a national symbol of the dangers of hazardous waste incinerators.