Government

EPA Says Incinerator Emitted Toxic Chemicals

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – The U.S. Environmental Protection agency today posted on its website a 20-page “Finding of Violation” that states Heritage Thermal Services Inc., operators of the hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, released toxic chemicals into the air nearly 200 times over a four-year period.

The toxic emissions occurred because of equipment failures and operator errors, the document states (CLICK HERE).

As a result, the EPA says Heritage Thermal Services violated the Clean Air Act, specifically the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from Hazardous Waste Combustors and the terms of the incinerator’s permit to operate.

The EPA Finding of Violation was first reported Thursday by the Columbus Dispatch, which counted the citations to report “the Heritage incinerator emitted gases that contained high levels of toxic chemicals into the air 195 times over 175 days from November 2010 through December 2014.”

A statement released today by Heritage Thermal Services takes issue with how the newspaper summarized the EPA document.

“Thursday’s Columbus Dispatch article about claims issued by the U.S. EPA confuses infrequent and brief failures with mechanical operation standards with violations of air emissions standards of certain toxic pollutants,” the company said. “The article incorrectly suggests that plant operations present health risks to our community.”

Steward Fletcher, vice president and general manager of Hermitage Thermal Services, was notified of the EPA finding in a letter dated March 23 (but posted online today) signed by George T. Czerniak, director of the federal agency’s Air and Radiation Division.

States Czerniak’s letter, “Section 113 of the Clean Air Act gives us several enforcement options. These options include issuing an administrative compliance order, issuing an administrative penalty order and bringing a judicial civil or criminal action.”

The letter offers Heritage the “opportunity to confer with us about the violations.”

The Dispatch quotes Fletcher as stating such a meeting is schedule for next month.

The hazardous waste incinerator, a source of community controversy since it began operations in December 1992, continues to operate. It’s owned by Heritage-WTI Inc., which does business as Heritage Thermal Services.

According to the company’s website, Heritage-wti.com, the facility has the capacity to incinerate 60,000 tons of waster per year. It sits on a 21-acre site at 1250 Saint George St. where 180 workers are employed.

Here is the full text of the company’s statement:

Heritage Thermal Services provides an important service to the environment by safely destroying wastes that are produced from U. S. manufacturers of commonly used products such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, health and beauty aids, housing components, energy sources and transportation. As our employees and East Liverpool residents are aware, the safety, health and welfare of our community are and always will be the top priorities at our facility. Our highly trained environmental and engineering professionals work diligently to ensure that priority is met.

Thursday’s Columbus Dispatch article about claims issued by the U.S. EPA confuses infrequent and brief failures with mechanical operation standards with violations of air emissions standards of certain toxic pollutants. The article incorrectly suggests that plant operations present health risks to our community.

We are a leader in demonstrating compliance with complex new rules for commercial hazardous waste incinerators in the United States. We cooperated fully with the U.S. EPA and the Ohio EPA in this process. Indeed, our professionals will be meeting with U.S. EPA officials in Chicago next month to ensure that we are in agreement with the agencies that regulate us regarding procedures to comply with these protective new rules.

Our commitment to our employees and the East Liverpool community is to work as hard as we can every day to protect the health, welfare, and safety of our workforce and the community. We are completely confident that our highly engineered, rigorously monitored facility is not adversely affecting the health and welfare of those we care about most.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.