News ][ National
Report: Air pollution samples near
EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (AP) --
More than a year's worth of federally required air pollution samples
were lost, mishandled and even fabricated from the community
surrounding a hazardous waste incinerator, environmental officials
There is, however, no indication from readings taken
before or since the period when the samples were lost or tainted
that the air was unsafe around the Von Roll Waste Technologies
Industries incinerator itself, the Ohio Environmental Protection
Still, opponents who have fought the plant,
which opened in 1992 near homes and an elementary school across the
Ohio River from Chester, W.Va., say they're not happy.
smoke from the incinerator's stack glides across the blue-collar
region where Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia meet.
"They've been telling us for years that this is the most
heavily monitored and scrutinized facility in the country,'' said
Teresa Mills, director of the Buckeye Environmental Network, an
advocacy group. "Where's the proof?''
In 1991, hundreds of
people, including many from West Virginia's Hancock County,
protested against the proposal to build the incinerator, then called
Waste Technologies Industries. The incinerator burns up to 60,000
tons of waste a year.
An EPA investigation found that its
employee Christine D'Amico, who was responsible for the pollution
monitors in Columbiana County, failed to properly maintain the
monitors and regularly collect the results. Supervisors began
sending D'Amico e-mails last summer asking why she hadn't submitted
any samples for the year.
D'Amico replied that she was
behind in processing the samples. She resigned June 13.
missing and tainted samples from late 2001 through 2002 were from
general air monitors scattered throughout East Liverpool. The state
is required to report soot and metal readings, including airborne
Without results from the surrounding county
for comparison, the agency said, the samples from the incinerator
site itself are meaningless.
"There probably was not an air
quality problem in Columbiana County during this period because the
‘before' and ‘after' numbers are so similar,'' EPA spokeswoman
Patricia Madigan said.
Separate monitors show the plant has
been in compliance for the last couple of years although the
monitors measure different pollutants, she said.
disclosure comes at a time when the state is considering whether to
renew the plant's environmental permits.
During the 1992
election campaign, vice presidential candidate Al Gore suggested the
incinerator should be shut down. But once elected, the Clinton
administration said there were no legal grounds to block it. The
issue dogged Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign.
Mills said the problem should have been discovered sooner.
"There should have been all kinds of bells and whistles from
the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA,'' she said.
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