YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Thursday night in Youngstown, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency met with the public over a proposed recycling facility. SOBE Energy Solutions has submitted an application for a permit to convert old tires into synthetic gas. At Thursday’s meeting, the Ohio EPA listened to concerns from the community.
Currently, the plant is in operation, burning only natural gas. If the permit is approved, SOBE would process 88 tons of tire chips per day at peak capacity.
The meeting began with a presentation from the Ohio EPA about what SOBE plans to do. It was followed by questions from the crowd such as who will regulate it and if it was in the county.
One man in opposition to the plant had to be escorted out of the meeting.
“Everyone is alert to you now. This is garbage.”
After questions, came the public comments section.
“No. We don’t want it. It’s one thing with natural gas. Tire chips is entirely a different thing.”
Overwhelmingly, the crowd at the Eugenia Atkinson Recreation Center said they didn’t want the SOBE plant in operation. That opinion included Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown and several members of council.
“What is being discharged into our sewers? If there is a fire, what will be the concerns of our fire department?” Brown asked.
Citizens are worried about a potential disaster, emission levels and environmental justice, among others.
“It is our firm belief that any negative consequences arising from this facility’s unproven technology would unjustly burden an already vulnerable population,” said Christopher Colon with the Ohio Environmental Council.
In the crowd, about 30 people wore shirts that read “SOBE Proud.” One of them was Lowellville Mayor James Iudiciani.
“This is by far the safest way to run a thermal plant. It’s state of the art. It’s time to bring this technology to the Valley, to the United States. I’m in full support [of] SOBE,” Iudiciani said.
The public comments section remains open. Anyone can send a comment to the Ohio EPA before September 10. The Ohio EPA is obligated to take public comments into consideration before issuing the final permit. Comments can be emailed to DAPCNE.Comments@epa.ohio.gov or mailed to:
Ohio EPA NEDO-DAPC
attn. Erik Bewley
2110 E. Aurora Rd.
Twinsburg, OH 44087