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Key findings and excerpts
U.S. EPA Ombudsman report on WTI incinerator

         October 20, 2000
  • January 31, 2000: White House Council on Environmental Quality commits and EPA agrees to 'an expedited and independent Ombudsman review of the WTI hazardous waste incinerator' (page 1).
  • 'Promised resources became available in May' (page 2).
  • 'It is neither protective of human health and the environment nor of public safety to allow the WTI facility to continue unrestricted operations, in the face of such new information' (page 3).
  • 'My principal recommendation is that EPA and Ohio EPA restrict operations at the WTI facility immediately by: (1) Halting the feeding of waste to the incinerator for a period of no less than six months' (page 3).
  • Multiple precedents cited for the U.S. EPA accepting the ombudsman's recommendations, including the Vertac incinerator in Arkansas and the Times Beach, Missouri Superfund clean up (page 4).
  • Ombudsman authority and jurisdiction (pages 4 and 6).
  • Chronology of WTI permit process to date (page 14).
  • Findings of fact (page 18).
  • WTI payments to the North Ohio Valley Air Authority (page 21).
  • Air monitors outside WTI 'gutted,' computers 'disappeared' (page 21).
  • Continuous emission monitor in WTI stack was 'pro- grammed in a way that prevented them from providing regulators with correct data' (page 21).
  • 'EPA was most likely not aware of such problems during the trial burn itself or the subsequent compliance testing for lead required by the RCRA permit for WTI' (page 28).
  • 'The gravamen of such new information, which goes to the very heart of how safe the WTI facility is and whether it is truly protective of human health and the environment, is that the entire trial burn for the WTI facility is inconclusive at best' (page 28).
  • 'Clearly it is within the discretion of the EPA and the Ohio EPA to revoke the WTI RCRA permit in view of the new information regarding irregularities in the stack testing and the ambient air monitoring during the trial burn and in compliance testing at the facility thereafter' (page 29).
  • Kathleen McGinty, former Director of the White House Counsel of Environmental Quality, told the Ombudsman that although 'she had conversations with key EPA officials, at no time did any EPA official bring to her attention, any of the testing, sampling, and monitoring irregularities' (page 30).
  • Risk Assessment Uncertainties (page 30).
  • 'In view of fundamental irregularities in the testing, sampling, and environmental monitoring during the WTI trial burn and subsequent compliance testing along with corresponding uncertainties in the risk assessment, EPA should act consistently with past decision[s] based upon Ombudsman recommendations' (page 32).