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Trial Burn Begins At Ohio Toxic Waste Incinerator

March 9, 1993

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (AP) _ A test burn of hazardous waste began today at an incinerator that has generated protests from activists and safety questions from Vice President Al Gore.

A federal judge on Friday prohibited commercial operation of the plant pending analysis from the trial burn. The analysis could take a year and the incinerator’s operators appealed the order.

Beth Newman, a Greenpeace spokeswoman, said opponents were surprised that Waste Technologies Industries went ahead with the trial.

″Circumstantial evidence indicates WTI and the Ohio EPA are uncomfortable with being open with the public about when the trial burn is happening,″ she said.

″It’s typical of the kind of backroom dealings we’ve seen throughout this battle.″

Opponents of the plant have held protests outside the incinerator and more than 100 arrests have been made.

Leaders of opposition groups were in Washington today seeking a meeting with President Clinton. Gore said last year that he wanted a congressional investigation before the plant could start burning waste.

The $160 million incinerator is along the Ohio River near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Some residents in all three states have opposed the incinerator.

Plant operators on Monday asked the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the case immediately. Appeals court spokeswoman Debra Nagle said today that the court hadn’t made a decision on when to hear it.

Plant Manager Jeffrey Zelik said Monday that many of its 104 employees would have to be laid off if the incinerator couldn’t begin money-making operations. Plant officials have said Waste Technologies is losing $115,000 a day while the incinerator is idle.

Opponents asked Aldrich to block the trial burn, contending the test would pose an unacceptable risk of dioxin contamination. Dioxin is a suspected cause of carcer.

Federal regulators and consultants hired by the plant countered that opponents misinterpreted test data. They said the cancer risk was below Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Gore said in December that matters relating to the health effects of lead and mercury emissions, construction standards and location of the facility, along with permit issues, ″have consistently been downplayed or ignored by the Environmental Protection Agency.″

Gore said the safety concerns of local residents required that there be a thorough investigation by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

The incinerator is just 300 feet from the nearest neighborhood and 1,100 feet from an elementary school.

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