Do the math: ”New” incinerator proposal would have same amount of dangerous pollutants from soot, more dioxin, and still be the largest polluter of mercury in the county

CLEVELAND —   In an attempt to avoid federal regulation as a “major” source of pollution under the Clean Air Act, Cleveland Public Power announced on February 23, 2012, that it plans to have three combustion units at is proposed garbage incinerator rather than four.  Cleveland Public Power says it now plans to run the three incinerator units at 96% capacity rather than four units at 72% capacity, as outlined in its draft permit.

The City’s press release  stated the following:

“These enhancements will significantly reduce the maximum annual emissions from the CREG [Cleveland Recycling and Energy] Center by an average of more than 25% and also reduce the predicted maximum air quality impact in the nearby neighborhoods by an average of more than 50%.“

However, a chart attached to the same press release shows the following :

  • The amount of pollution from soot, which includes fine particles that get into people’s lungs and bloodstream and aggravate asthma and heart disease, is virtually the same in the two proposals, at 78 tons per year
  • Emissions of volatile organic chemicals would also remain virtually the same, at an increase of .1%
  • “Hazardous air pollutants,” which includes dioxin, lead, mercury, sulfuric acid, cadmium, and hydrogen fluoride, would decrease by only 6.3%
  • Dioxin emissions would go up by 38%
  • The facility would still be the largest polluter of mercury in the county, at 144 pounds, and lead emissions would be 392 pounds
  • Nitrogen oxide emissions would come in just 6% under the federal threshold for major sources of 100 tons per year.  CPP claims these emissions would now be at 94 tons, rather than 194 tons.  This claim should raise alarms at the regulatory agencies, since permits which contain numbers obviously designed for the purpose of avoiding regulation are known as “sham permits.”

The city’s claim of reducing pollution in nearby neighborhoods by “an average of more than 50%” is a reference to their plan to raise the smokestacks from 175 feet to 200 feet. Of course, this does nothing to reduce the amount of pollution coming from the incinerator and only serves to spread it to more parts of the city, county, and region.

Maybe Mayor Frank Jackson and city officials did not hear what hundreds of Clevelanders were saying over the past two months in their testimony at six public meetings, and their written comments submitted on the draft permit:  we don’t want or need this new source of air pollution,  in our backyard or anyone else’s.

— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action