Nader says Gore broke promise on incinerator
September 28, 2000
EAST LIVERPOOL, O. - Ralph Nader yesterday accused Vice President
Gore of breaking an eight-year-old promise to block operation of a
hazardous waste incinerator that is 320 feet from the closest home
and 1,100 feet from an elementary school in this eastern Ohio city.
"It illustrates once again what a certified public coward Al Gore
is, how he speaks with forked tongue, and an elongated Pinocchio
nose on one issue after another," said Mr. Nader, the presidential
candidate of the Green Party. He spoke near East Liverpool
Elementary School, which is on a bluff slightly below the top of the
Mr. Nader called on Mr. Gore to shut down the Waste Technologies
Industries incinerator, saying the company should give its 185
employees two years of severance pay. Emissions from the incinerator
- among the largest in North America - include mercury, dioxin, and
lead. The furor over the incinerator has made international news and
become a lightning rod for environmentalists who oppose Mr. Gore.
Jim Kennedy, Vice President Gore's communications director, said
last night that Mr. Gore did not violate any pledge about WTI in
"We reject that claim as well as any mischaracterizations of what
the Vice President said. The Vice President and the administration
have worked hard to do what is necessary to protect public health.
The WTI facility has been scrutinized by the EPA more closely than
any facility of its kind."
A WTI executive also defended Mr. Gore, saying he fulfilled his
pledge through a General Accounting Office report in 1994 that said
federal environmental regulators acted properly in approving and
regulating the incinerator.
"To adopt a position on an issue without thoroughly reviewing of
all facts, as Nader has done here, is irresponsible and dangerous to
democratic society," said Fred Sigg, WTI's vice president and
While campaigning near Weirton, W. Va., in July, 1992, Mr. Gore
said: "The very idea of putting it in a flood plain, you know, it's
just unbelievable to me."
"Al Gore is unbelievable," Mr. Nader said yesterday.
On Dec. 7, 1992, Vice President-elect Gore released a statement
that the Clinton-Gore administration would not issue the incinerator
a permit for a test burn until federal officials answered "serious
questions" about whether the incinerator would be safe.
A month later, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under
President Bush gave approval to WTI to conduct its test burns. Mr.
Gore has maintained that the "legal ability to stop that permit was
removed because the last administration went ahead and did it after
the election, but before the inauguration."
But Mr. Nader said Mr. Gore has failed to document that he asked
the Bush-controlled EPA to delay approval of a permit for an
incinerator test burn.
"Gore's broken promise to stop WTI was a lie to the children of
East Liverpool Elementary School and the entire tri-state area,"
said anti-WTI activist Terri Swearingen, referring to Ohio,
Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. "Now he's lying about his broken
The test burns at WTI in 1993 revealed that the incinerator
released toxins in amounts greater than federal regulations allow,
with mercury and dioxin levels high enough to give the Clinton-Gore
administration "ample reason to deny approval of full commercial
operations" by WTI, Mr. Nader said.
The General Accounting Office report released in September, 1994,
noted that the EPA lowered toxic emission standards to allow the
incinerator to operate, Mr. Nader said.
Ms. Swearingen said Mr. Gore may have violated his pledge because
Jackson Stephens, a Little Rock, Ark., ally of Bill Clinton, was
involved in the project. Von Roll, WTI's parent company, contributed
$10,000 to the Democratic National Committee late in the 1992
campaign, she said.
In response to a question about hazardous waste disposal if WTI
were shut down, Mr. Nader said the nation should prevent the
generation of hazardous waste, enhance recycling efforts, and if
materials can't be recycled, then use "dumps that are carefully
lined so they don't leak."
"You don't burn it and then put it back in people's lungs and
children's bodies," he said.
Mr. Sigg said Mr. Nader carries the banner of a party whose
platform is "decidedly anti-industry and anti-environmental
Paul Mahan, who has worked at WTI as a maintenance technician for
10 years, was among a dozen incinerator employees who watched Mr.
Nader's speak. They sat silently in the bleachers as about 200 Green
Party backers cheered their man.
"He just doesn't know that our plant is safe and environmentally
correct," Mr. Mahan said. "Something has to be done with hazardous
waste. You just can't bury it year after year. Incineration is not
the best thing in the world, but it's the best way to get rid of
Nonetheless, Mr. Mahan - a lifelong Democrat who said his party
no longer appears interested in helping "working people" - said he
might vote for Mr. Nader on Nov. 7.
"I believe that he's right when he talks about corporate America
and how it's taken advantage of people. But I've also seen
corporations that do help people," he said.
As Mr. Nader campaigned in East Liverpool and Youngstown, the
Green Party filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus to
attach "Green Party" to Mr. Nader's spot on the Nov. 7 ballot in
Ohio, instead of "independent."
The Secretary of State's office has said Mr. Nader will be on the
ballot as an independent because the Green Party has not qualified
as a major party under Ohio elections law.