Friday, March 2, 2012

U.S. EPA confirms Cleveland’s proposed project is indeed an incinerator, not just a ‘gasifier’

CLEVELAND — Over the past year, Mayor Frank Jackson and Cleveland Public Power have repeatedly insisted that their proposed garbage burning facility on Ridge Road is a “gasifier,” not an “incinerator.”  They have taken out full page ads in newspapers to make this point, developed elaborate analogies comparing the proposal to a “toaster,” and argued with citizens holding up “No Cleveland  Incinerator” signs at public meetings.

The citizens of Cleveland weren’t fooled by this, however, and neither was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Last week, U.S. EPA, the agency in charge of regulating the Clean Air Act, wrote a detailed review  of the city’s proposed air pollution permit and confirmed that the project is indeed an incinerator.
This is not just a debate over semantics, because air pollution rules and requirements for incinerators are stricter and more protective of public health than rules for gasifiers.  

Claude Lawrence Cornett, a Cleveland area engineer,  researched the patents for the Kinsei-Sangyo technology that the city based its permit on and found that they all have the word “incineration” or “incinerating” in their titles.

Cornett goes on to explain:  “Cleveland Public Power, the Cleveland Division of Air Quality, and others, have been scammed by Kinsei Sangyo and their representatives to think that the proposed at the Ridge Road waste treatment plant will use gasifiers and not solid waste incinerators with energy recovery.”

— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do the math: ''New'' incinerator proposal would have same amount of dangerous pollutants from soot, more dioxin, and still be the largest polluter of mercury in the county

CLEVELAND —   In an attempt to avoid federal regulation as a “major” source of pollution under the Clean Air Act, Cleveland Public Power announced on February 23, 2012, that it plans to have three combustion units at is proposed garbage incinerator rather than four.  Cleveland Public Power says it now plans to run the three incinerator units at 96% capacity rather than four units at 72% capacity, as outlined in its draft permit.

The City’s press release  stated the following:

“These enhancements will significantly reduce the maximum annual emissions from the CREG [Cleveland Recycling and Energy] Center by an average of more than 25% and also reduce the predicted maximum air quality impact in the nearby neighborhoods by an average of more than 50%.“
However, a chart attached to the same press release shows the following :
  • The amount of pollution from soot, which includes fine particles that get into people’s lungs and bloodstream and aggravate asthma and heart disease, is virtually the same in the two proposals, at 78 tons per year
  • Emissions of volatile organic chemicals would also remain virtually the same, at an increase of .1%
  • “Hazardous air pollutants,” which includes dioxin, lead, mercury, sulfuric acid, cadmium, and hydrogen fluoride, would decrease by only 6.3%
  • Dioxin emissions would go up by 38%
  • The facility would still be the largest polluter of mercury in the county, at 144 pounds, and lead emissions would be 392 pounds
  • Nitrogen oxide emissions would come in just 6% under the federal threshold for major sources of 100 tons per year.  CPP claims these emissions would now be at 94 tons, rather than 194 tons.  This claim should raise alarms at the regulatory agencies, since permits which contain numbers obviously designed for the purpose of avoiding regulation are known as “sham permits.”
The city’s claim of reducing pollution in nearby neighborhoods by “an average of more than 50%” is a reference to their plan to raise the smokestacks from 175 feet to 200 feet. Of course, this does nothing to reduce the amount of pollution coming from the incinerator and only serves to spread it to more parts of the city, county, and region.

Maybe Mayor Frank Jackson and city officials did not hear what hundreds of Clevelanders were saying over the past two months in their testimony at six public meetings, and their written comments submitted on the draft permit:  we don’t want or need this new source of air pollution,  in our backyard or anyone else’s.

— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mayor of Shaker Heights weighs in against air pollution from proposed Cleveland incinerator: ‘We are located directly down-wind’

SHAKER HTS — “Earl M. Leiken, the Mayor of Shaker Heights, filed official public comments yesterday on the City of Cleveland’s proposal to build a new garbage incinerator.  The mayor’s comments conclude:

“The permit application lists the allowable emissions that would come from the plant, among them pollutants with obnoxious odors associated with them, especially the Dioxin. Such odors can negatively impact communities even when the actual pollutants emitted are within the legally acceptable ranges.

It appears there many unanswered concerns about the amount, type and quality of the trash that will provide the fuel for the plant and the impact of adding such a large new source of air pollution as our area struggles to regain its economic footing.

Finally, I want to impress upon the Division of Air Quality, whose jurisdiction covers all of Cuyahoga County, that such a large new source of pollutants must be evaluated not only for its impact in the immediate neighborhood surrounding the plant, but also the impact in other communities in the County that will also likely be affected.”

— Earl M Leiken, Mayor of Shaker Heights

Read the full text of letter

Thursday, February 23, 2012

U.S. EPA: Cleveland incinerator must be regulated as a major source of pollution; Start over with permitting process

CHICAGO, IL — “Unless OEPA can demonstrate this conclusion is in error, we would consider issuance of a synthetic minor permit to be inappropriate and in violation of federal PSD [Major Source Prevent Significant Deterioration] requirements. We would expect the need for OEPA to go back and issue a PSD permit for this proposed facility and that PSD applicability would need to be re-evaluated for the other pollutants to determine if they are at major source levels considering their significance level thresholds. The permit must be re-evaluated to determine whether it was major for non-attainment New Source Review for the PM 2.5 [fine particulate matter (soot) less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter] emissions.

“As noted, the fundamental question of PSD applicability is critical, and could likely result in an entirely new permit process, requirements and record, which will undergo its own EPA review. We do, however, have other comments on this draft synthetic minor permit, which we’ve provided in Appendix A. As you are aware, many people have raised environmental justice concerns and our review considered those issues as well. We have provided several recommendations to further strengthen the permit given the concerns of the community.”

— Genevieve Damico, Chief, Air Permits Section, U.S. EPA Region 5, letter to Michael Hopkins, Assistant Chief, Permitting, Ohio EPA Division of Air Pollution Control, February 23, 2012

Read the full text of letter 

Read the City of Cleveland's response 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interpreting pollution maps for the proposed Cleveland incinerator

CLEVELAND — “To read the maps [78 MB pdf download] is actually easy, but it’s more important to understand how to interpret what they mean to the average neighbor. Each color is a different average daily concentration that will be experienced over the five years they modeled. As you get further away, the concentration gets lower. Purple and dark blue are highest, light pink is lowest. They only modeled the impact to a distance of 2,000 meters, 6,561 feet, or about 1.2 miles away from the stacks. (Not really “well over a mile” as the report says.)

The report states the following:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cleveland air official says proposed plant's emission numbers are high

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Critics of Cleveland's plans to build a $180 million trash-disposal plant on the city's West Side say even a city air-pollution regulator thinks the plant would spew dangerous emissions.

"This will be a new, and a large, pollution source," George Baker, commissioner of air quality, wrote in a Nov. 23 email that Ohio Citizen Action obtained through a records request and posted Monday on the watchdog group's website.

Baker went on to list the major pollutants: particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. He said the amount of mercury on a draft permit would be smaller but is "a concern because of the potential health effects even at low levels."

--Thomas Ott, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Read the entire article