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WTI welcomes Nader with a few choice words


September 27, 2000

Jo Ann Bobby Gilbert
Columbiana County Morning Journal

EAST LIVERPOOL -- Officials at VonRoll/WTI said yesterday that today's visit to the city by Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader is little more than an opportunity for local opponents to "get cozy with any politician who panders to them."

Nader plans a 10 a.m. press conference and an 11 a.m. public meeting at the city school district's administration building in the East End, and a press release by the Tri-State Environmental Council earlier this week said Nader "wants (presidential opponent) Al Gore to honor his first post-election promise to stop the WTI incinerator."

In a release yesterday, WTI general Manager Fred Sigg said, "It is unfortunate that Nader has not bothered to contact us to find out firsthand what our company is about. He joins former California Governor Jerry Brown and the roster of other pandering politicians who have swung through our town seeking media attention at the expense of our 185 employees and their families."

Saying Nader is using WTI as a political football, Sigg said the long-time consumer advocate should know that Gore did, in fact, keep his promise concerning the company.

Sigg continued by saying Gore promised that the U.S. General Accounting Office would exhaustively investigate concerns raised by critics of WTI and a report of that investigation was released in 1994, "concluding that the U.S. EPA has acted appropriately in permitting and regulating our facility."

Among the findings, Sigg said, was the GAO's conclusion that, "EPA has carried out a number of activities at the WTI facility, including overseeing a trial burn, monitoring and inspecting the facility's operations and conducting a risk assessment to help ensure that the WTI facility will not adversely affect the health and environment of those who live in the East Liverpool area."

It was noted in the GAO's report that the level of effort in all areas had exceeded those required by current regulations.

"Because the report's conclusions do not jibe with the critics' premeditated notions, they are doing what they can to embarrass Gore. Turning to Nader is their latest ploy," Sigg said.

He said that by choosing to speak in East End, Nader "expects to add an emotional component to his stop," and said he may hold the nearby East Elementary as a symbol, saying the only response plan that exists is to shelter students and faculty inside the building.

"He should know that technique is a common response measure called 'shelter-in-place.' According to emergency response experts, it is the most common measure used in the country. Local emergency managers would employ it for students and home occupants as well," Sigg said.

According to Sigg, emergency planners would order shelter-in-place in the case of an accident involving one of the hundreds of railroad tank cars which pass by the school daily carrying anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, and other hazardous substances or if the refinery across the Ohio River had an incident, for example.

"We believe we have already established a solid record of safe performance. Our facility is designed and our workers are trained to prevent incidents. When incidents have occurred, our people have responded swiftly and appropriately," Sigg maintained.

He said both Nader's motive and capacity for leadership deserve scrutiny, charging, "To adopt a position on an issue without thoroughly reviewing all the facts, as Nader has done here, is irresponsible and dangerous to democratic society."

In addition, Sigg said, Nader's criticism of WTI's advance operation, which has "boosted the local economy and developed an unused brownfield, sends chilling messages to American industry..." but said that "means little to Nader, who carries the banner of a party whose platform is decidedly anti-industry and anti-environmental technology."

Nader's agenda today also includes stops at Youngstown State University following his visit to East Liverpool.