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Akron 175

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Published Sunday, October 22, 2000,
in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Monday ~ Tuesday ~ Wednesday ~ Thursday ~ Friday ~ Saturday ~ Sunday

Agency will test waste facility

But EPA won't follow expert's suggestion to close incinerator

Associated Press

EAST LIVERPOOL: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will follow an ombudsman's recommendation to test an East Liverpool hazardous waste incinerator, but not his suggestion to close it for at least six months.

Ombudsman Robert Martin, an EPA official working independently, has been reviewing the safety and emissions standards of the Von Roll Waste Technologies Industries incinerator since January.

Martin, in a preliminary report released Friday, recommends shutting down the plant, conducting a trial burn to measure its ability to properly dispose of waste, and preparing a new risk assessment.

The EPA will require the new trial burn and amend the risk assessment based on the results, said Timothy Fields Jr., EPA assistant administrator. But instead of closing the incinerator, the EPA will do an air quality test, he said.

``We are responding to that recommendation by bringing together a team of national experts from Edison, N.J., to appropriate air monitoring,'' Fields said.

The air monitoring will test for lead and other metals, and take about two months to complete, he said.

WTI spokesman Raymond Wayne said new tests are not necessary.

``The EPA has spent millions of dollars already inspecting our facility,'' he said last night. ``All the questions have been answered and them some. We have been the most heavily studied and thoroughly investigated facility of our kind in the country.''

Vice President Al Gore, through spokesman Jim Kennedy, said he will continue to urge the EPA to follow the ombudsman's recommendations.

During a presidential campaign stop in December 1992, Gore spoke out against the WTI incinerator because it sits on the riverbank and near an elementary school.

After the election, he told residents that the Clinton administration would not issue WTI a crucial operating permit until Congress' investigative division reviewed the plant's safety and the permitting process.

``The vice president does believe that the ombudsman's recommendations should be followed. He supports the recommendation that the facility cease operation of the incinerator,'' Kennedy said.

The $165 million incinerator, which destroys 60,000 tons of industrial and household waste a year, opened in December 1992. Its giant kiln burns solvents and sludge shipped in from around the country.

WTI in September agreed to pay $135,000 for violating hazardous waste regulations at the incinerator. The settlement covers violations the EPA's on-site agents discovered during daily inspections of the plant between September 1996 and July 2000. It also requires the company to install a kiln shroud to reduce the potential for emissions to escape.

The EPA said the company at times failed to properly manage containers of waste; failed to separate incompatible waste; failed to properly evaluate waste received at the plant; and failed to operate the plant in a manner that would minimize the possibility of a fire, explosion or release of waste.

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