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