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=======================Electronic Edition========================



.                                                               .



.           RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY #255           .



.                    ---October 16, 1991---                     .



.                          HEADLINES:                           .



.                THE GOVERNED BEGIN TO WITHHOLD                 .



.           THEIR CONSENT AND 34 ARE ARRESTED IN OHIO           .



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=================================================================







THE GOVERNED BEGIN TO WITHHOLD 



THEIR CONSENT AND 34 ARE ARRESTED IN OHIO







The longest-running incinerator battle in America boiled over



late last month when nearly 400 citizens in East Liverpool, Ohio



shut down a public meeting September 25 chanting and singing



"America the Beautiful" so loudly that officials of U.S.



Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ohio EPA surrendered,



wheeled out a black board bearing the scrawled words, "We can't



convene this meeting so it is adjourned. Send your written



comments to U.S. EPA in Chicago," and left town, their ears red



and ringing. As we went to press, 20 local citizens and two



Greenpeace campaigners were still being held in three local



jails, charged with civil disobedience--a mass trespass on the



property of the WTI incinerator in East Liverpool Sunday October



13.







Between September 20 and October 13 momentum had built steadily.



September 23 a consulting firm called CHMR loosely affiliated



with University of Pittsburgh released a report saying the huge



furnace was entirely safe. Greenpeace chemist Pat Costner, author



of PLAYING WITH FIRE; HAZARDOUS WASTE INCINERATION, cut the



report to shreds on technical grounds. "This report displays an



embarrassing level of incompetence and complete lack of



integrity," she began, then unfolded a laundry list of errors,



evasions, and untruths. In an experiment in low-cost media,



Costner delivered her blast from her home in Arkansas. Her



written critique was sent by modem to Ohio,  where it was printed



and photocopied for distribution. She then videotaped her



critical remarks, sent the tape by overnight courier for



presentation the next day at a press conference in Pittsburgh



where she answered reporters' questions by phone from Arkansas.







A couple of days later Richard Sahli, former chairperson of



Ohio's siting board, attacked the incinerator as dangerous and



outdated technology that didn't belong anywhere, least of all at



water's edge on the Ohio River.







WTI public relations teams scheduled a "public information



meeting" in a local school Sept. 24. But local citizens boycotted



what they viewed as sham science and outright lies intended not



to inform but to ramrod a dangerous project into a rural town.



Only about 10 people sat in the empty hall while 150 angry



citizens held a noisy demonstration outside. "We stole their show



completely," said Joy Allison, a local leader.







The next night government took its turn at trying to convince



people in East Liverpool that America's largest toxic waste



incinerator was just what they needed to improve the quality of



life in their little town. Citizens announced they would shut



down the hearing. Nearly 400 local people showed up. As the



show-and-tell got underway, citizens laid a coffin with a folded



American flag on the stage behind EPA officials to symbolize the



death of democracy. As the hearing opened, local leader Terri



Swearingen stood on her chair and shouted through a bull horn,



"This hearing is a sham," and all  nonviolent hell broke loose.



Local citizens had smuggled at least 5  battery-powered bull



horns into the gym and the combined blast of bull horns plus 400



people chanting and singing in one room produced a deafening din



that didn't diminish until EPA turned tail after nearly an hour.



"You could hardly hear the person right next to you," said



Swearingen, 35, a nurse and mother turned activist. "It was



beautiful and powerful," she said. "It restored a sense of



control for local people, and that sense of democracy is still



growing. That meeting was the turning point," she said.







Momentum kept building and this past Sunday (October 13), 34



people were arrested for civil disobedience (trespassing on WTI



property) in the quiet eastern Ohio town. Outsiders like actor



Martin Sheen and charismatic chemist Paul Connett, head of Work



on Waste USA, were both arrested, linked arm in arm with local



people. The crowd was singing "Amazing Grace" when Sheen said, "I



feel led by the Spirit to climb over this fence," and he did.



Thirty-three others followed suit and were arrested.







The town was shaken to its midwestern roots, and so was Ohio



government. Governor Voinovich blamed the entire series of events



on "outside agitators" but anyone who has followed the ten-year



history of WTI knows the governor missed the point.







After five years of battle, the WTI project was badly stalled in



1984 because it was then owned outright by Waste Management, Inc.



(WMI), a convicted felon. Under Ohio's "bad boy" law, convicted



felons can't get a license to handle hazardous wastes in Ohio.



Now a complex financial arrangement lets WMI profit from the



incinerator through a thinly-veiled shield of subsidiaries. WMI



sold its WTI permit to Von Roll (America), a European firm that



provides the furnaces for Wheelabrator incinerators (a WMI



subsidiary). The incinerator is being built by Rust Engineering



(a WMI subsidiary). The 47 million pounds of hazardous ash



produced by WTI each year will be sent to  dumps in Wayne County,



Indiana, and Model City, New York owned by Chemical Waste



Management (a WMI subsidiary). But Ohio government gave WTI a



permit on the pretense that convicted felon WMI is nowhere in



sight. "They are not fooling anyone," said Alonzo Spencer, head



of SOC (Save Our County) who has been fighting WTI relentlessly



for 10 years. As we went to press, Spencer--a soft-spoken,



middle-aged businessman--was in city jail in East Liverpool.







There ARE outsiders in East Liverpool--a handful of seasoned



Greenpeace activists have set up an outpost in a house across the



river in Chester, WV where they are being kept alive by the local



Dominoes Pizza outlet as they work late into the night helping



local people make their moves--but to think of these events as



outsider-driven is to miss entirely what's happening here. The



people in jail are ordinary Americans--nurses, airplane pilots,



ministers, shopkeepers, homemakers, family people, senior



citizens--who were being herded to the slaughterhouse by the



regulatory-industrial complex when they bolted from the chute,



growing feisty and independent in the process. They have now



learned the secret of success: the system simply does not know



how to handle citizens who confront their corporate adversaries



directly, start exercising their right of free speech and start



taking the Declaration of Independence to heart: "Governments are



instituted among [people], deriving their just powers from the



consent of the governed--[and] whenever any form of government



becomes destructive of those ends it is the right of the people



to alter or abolish it...," the Declaration says. Withholding



consent is powerful medicine for an ailing democracy.







After the first bunch was taken off to jail, people regrouped



later that night. Vern Hurst and nearly 20 others from the group



STOP IT in Nova, Ohio, had arrived to help any way they could in



the WTI fight. Hurst, a retired Air Force captain who has spent



years fighting an incinerator proposed for his home town by IT



Corp., spoke eloquently of the need to press on. "They've jailed



your leaders, they hope they've broken your spirit. But this is



the time to gather our strength and renew the fight until victory



is ours...."







Government is being altered in Ohio. The consent of the governed



is being withheld in East Liverpool.







The WTI incinerator is nearly 80% built, and construction is on a



fast track with activity round the clock. It is the biggest



incinerator ever proposed in the U.S. with a capacity of 176,000



tons of liquid hazardous waste and another 83,000 tons of



inorganic waste annually.







WTI estimates that 11,000 trucks will drive through East



Liverpool delivering wastes each year. If the incinerator works



perfectly, with never a single upset, leak, spill or accident, it



will release somewhere between 26 and 260 tons of raw, unburned



hazardous wastes directly into the air of East Liverpool, plus



1.5 million pounds of toxic metals (lead, cadmium, arsenic, and



so forth), and another 5.1 million pounds of toxic organics



called Products of Incomplete Combustion (PICs); these are toxic



compounds created inside the incinerator, many of them more



dangerous than the raw wastes from which they were created during



combustion. This large quantity of toxic pollution will sweep



through an elementary school 1100 feet from the smoke stack, then



down into the valleys of nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia,



carrying hazards as far as Pittsburgh (37 miles away) and beyond.



Citizen groups in all three states have formed an alliance to



stop WTI. West Virginia's Governor Caperton says he'll sue to



stop it. If that happens, WTI seems headed for the U.S. Supreme



Court and, at a minimum, serious delay.







People from East Liverpool and surrounding towns are now



confident they can win their decade-long battle against the hated



incinerator. "It was taking over that EPA meeting that did it for



us. If we could do that, we can do anything," said one local



citizen-turned-activist.







As we went to press, 20 local people and two Greenpeacers



remained in three separate jails. Reports from the Columbiana



County jail in Lisbon indicated that women prisoners were being



denied basic necessities like tampons; one woman, a diabetic, was



being denied a diet suitable for her medical needs. No such



problems were being reported by the jailed men. It seems gender



discrimination continues everywhere in our developing society,



even as democracy's handbook is being rewritten.



                                                --Peter Montague







Descriptor terms: east liverpool, oh; oh; epa; wti; pat costner;



greenpeace; hazardous waste incineration; waste disposal



technologies; hazardous waste; martin sheen; paul connett; wmi;



bad boy laws; von roll; wheelabrator; rust engineering; cwmi;



alonzo spencer; wv; chester, wv; citizen groups; pa; heavy



metals; pics; democracy;







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