LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Lordstown Village officials and the president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber were on opposing sides Wednesday night when it came to allowing wastewater to be dumped into one of Lordstown’s major waterways.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency held a public hearing on a proposal by the Lordstown Energy Center to discharge into Mud Creek. Lordstown officials are opposed for several reasons while the chamber president says it’ll open up other economic development projects.
Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill spoke first at Wednesday night’s Ohio EPA public hearing. He is opposed to the proposal for the Lordstown Energy Center to dump 750,000 gallons of wastewater a day into Mud Creek.
“It will significantly, financially and operationally damage the village, it’s residents and contribute to enhanced pollution of Mud Creek and the Mahoning River,” Hill said.
The Lordstown Energy Center off Route 45 generates electricity by natural gas. Mud Creek runs through the woods south and east of the plant.
“The Village of Lordstown strongly objects to LEC disconnecting from its operable east side system,” said Lordstown engineer Christopher Kogelnik.
Kogelnik explained how the village invested heavily into its sewage treatment system so that Lordstown Energy could dispose of its water. Backing out of what was supposed to be a 20-year deal would cost Lordstown close to $1.4 million over 15 years.
“We support the Lordstown Energy Center application,” said Guy Coviello, president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
But Coviello said granting the discharge permit will create more capacity at the Warren Sewage Treatment plant, which, because of its lack of capacity in 2020, cost Trumbull County $486 million in economic development projects.
“If we had the sewer capacity necessary to accommodate these projects, we could have added more than 800 industrial jobs,” Coviello said.
“I don’t want to see economic development stopped somewhere else, but it’s not at our fault. So I don’t think we should be put to blame if we don’t agree,” said Lordstown Fire Chief Travis Eastham.
Nils Swenson of Lordstown Energy said the discharge would be “clean, cooling tower water.” He said cooling ponds would be built and diverting the water to Mud Creek would reduce greenhouse emissions regularly created by wastewater treatment processes.
Mud Creek empties into the Mahoning River near Niles. Several people Wednesday night reminded the EPA that the agency has already invested money into removing dams along the Mahoning River in an effort to clean it up.
We asked when we could expect a decision and were told there’s no timetable.