EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – Officials with a hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool said they hope they can resolve accusations recently made against their company by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In March, executives with the Heritage Thermal Services facility received a letter indicating the EPA had issued a Finding of Violation against the company, which many in the area know as the Waste Technologies incinerator, or WTI. The company burns about 60,000 tons of household and commercial chemical waste each year.
The letter suggests the company had nearly 200 incidents of operator or mechanical error over the last four years violating national air pollution standards. The Environmental Protection Agency said Heritage released dangerous toxins into the air over the past four years, exposing those nearby to chemicals that can cause cancer, miscarriages and early death.
The federal agency found that the company’s incinerator emitted gases that contained high levels of toxic chemicals 195 times from November 2010 to December 2014.
“This facility has a history of non-compliance. It goes way back,” said Alonzo Spencer, a member of Save Our County.
The group has been opposed to the incinerator for decades, convinced emissions would lead to increased rates of cancer and other problems. They said despite their complaints, the state allowed the plant to store 25 percent more waste on its property late last year.
“If they didn’t know about these multitude of violations, why? Is the Ohio EPA grossly incompetent or grossly negligent?,” Mike Walton of Save Our County said.
“This facility has been allowed to get away with too much because the agencies have not enforced the laws that already are on the books,” Spencer said.
But Raymond Wayne of Heritage Thermal Services said the plant’s internal safety equipment keeps toxic pollutants from being released, adding the letter refers to problems the company reported on its own as the law requires.
“If a pump has an upset, then we have to record that and report it. But that does not necessarily mean that there was an emissions overage coming out of the stack,” Wayne said.
He said company officials will meet with EPA directors next month hoping to resolve the problems.The Associated Press contributed to this report.