YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The City of Youngstown held its first Climate Change, Environment and Sustainable Technology Committee meeting Tuesday.
The committee oversees environmental efforts in the city such as green infrastructure, environmental impacts, energy sources and more.
One of the topics discussed at Tuesday’s meeting was the impact of pyrolysis process and SOBE variance. Pyrolysis is the heating of an organic material.
Committee chair and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis wanted to discuss the topic in wake of the recent East Palestine train derailment, but also in response to SOBE Energy Solutions wanting to change how it generates steam.
Hazardous material expert Sil Caggiano joined in on the meeting to provide insight.
“Pyrolysis is when you take a plastic, and this is what Mr. Sobe wants to do, he wants to take plastics and tires and he wants to incinerate them and create an oil,” Caggiano said. “He will then put through another process which will turn it into a gas, that he prefers to utilize and burn to heat these boilers.”
Caggiano said the problem with this method is the risk of accidents, like the plant catching fire. He also touched on the environmental effects of burning plastics, such as dioxins and other chemical compounds spreading through the air.
“Mr. Ferro says, ‘Well, I’m not gonna burn plastics; I’m gonna burn tires.’ But, what Mr. Ferro neglects to mention is that 60-70 percent of the tires that you ride with on your car are now synthetic tires,” Caggiano said.
Caggiano broke down the chemical makeup in tires and how those chemicals compare to some of the same chemicals released in the train derailment. He also spoke on the long-term health effects of exposure to those chemical compounds.
Another topic discussed was Complete and Green Streets (CGS), similar to a policy adopted by the city of Cleveland to incorporate design elements in roadway projects that expand opportunities for travel, including walking, biking, and transit and minimizing environmental harm.
“The benefit of complete green streets policy is to take some of the nice things that we have seen happen around the downtown area and extend that into our neighborhoods,” said Sarah Lowry, director of the Healthy Community Partnership Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.
Lowry says adopting this policy can help provide the city with accessible and clean streets and lighting, as well as help to improve safety and trees for better air quality.
First Ward Julius Oliver echoed Lowry in stating that this type of policy has benefited other cities and how it can get more people outdoors and into the communities.
“Folks are much more likely to choose to walk, use transit or bikes if the streets are safer for them to use… But, if that safety element is not there and the infrastructure does not allow for people to feel confident in using those other methods of moving around, they’re less likely to do so,” Lowry said.
You can watch the full committee meeting online on Anita Davis’ Facebook page.