EPA reaches toxic emissions settlement with East Liverpool busin - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

EPA reaches toxic emissions settlement with East Liverpool business

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The federal government has reached an agreement with a company accused of pumping potentially toxic emissions into the air in and around East Liverpool.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday announced a final consent decree with S.H. Bell Company. 

S.H. Bell Company will now be required to monitor and take measures to reduce manganese emissions from its 92-acre plant that spans the Pennsylvania-Ohio border in Ohioville, Pa. and East Liverpool, Ohio.

According to the EPA, S.H. Bell has been performing these measures since January 2017 when the consent decree was lodged in federal court.  

These safeguards include:

  • Fugitive dust control measures (such as rolling doors, and a baghouse with monitoring/recording systems);
  • A tracking system for manganese materials;
  • Video recordings of certain facility operations to help the company and regulators determine the source of manganese emissions detected in the future;
  • Fenceline monitoring with EPA-approved monitors;
  • Required steps to investigate and, if needed, take corrective action if emissions exceed specified trigger levels.

S.H. Bell must also collect air monitoring data from three fence line locations surrounding the facility and take specific actions if its monthly or annual ambient air manganese concentrations exceed certain action levels. 

The consent decree was filed in federal district court in Cleveland along with a complaint alleging that airborne manganese particles from S.H. Bell's facility may endanger the health of residents who live near the facility.

As part of the settlement, the company did not admit liability.

The government complaint is based on the authority of the Clean Air Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the "Superfund" statute.

According to EPA, air monitoring conducted in East Liverpool, Ohio and Glasgow, Pa. showed that the company's operations have contributed to or caused elevated airborne manganese levels in residential areas near the S.H. Bell facility.

Manganese is a naturally occurring element found in many soils, rocks, and foods, and is used in the production of steel and other industrial processes.

Manganese can be toxic when inhaled by humans at elevated exposure levels, leading to neurological and neuropsychological damage.

Beginning in 2011, U.S. EPA researchers conducted a health study of East Liverpool adults subject to long-term residential airborne manganese exposure.

The researchers conducted blood testing, neurological assessments, and neurological tests of long-term adult residents in East Liverpool.

Using air monitoring data for ambient air manganese concentrations, they performed air dispersion modeling of manganese levels for the area, and estimated ambient air manganese levels outside of the homes of study participants.

The researchers evaluated whether chronic exposure to airborne manganese is associated with adverse neurological health effects in adult residents of East Liverpool.

As discussed in a series of peer-reviewed papers published in 2015 and 2016, the study team found that higher concentrations of air manganese exposure is associated with certain adverse neurological effects, including lower neuropsychological test scores and is negatively correlated with motor function and tremor.

Since 1999, Ohio EPA has conducted fixed-site air monitoring at three locations in East Liverpool: Maryland Avenue; the Port Authority; and the Water Plant. More recently, ambient air manganese measurements have also been conducted in Glasgow, Pennsylvania.

Of the three East Liverpool monitoring stations, the Water Plant station consistently records the highest levels of manganese, according to the decree.

A study released in September of 2017 revealed that elevated manganese levels in East Liverpool children directly correlated with lower IQ levels. 

Research appearing online in the journal NeuroToxicology, analyzed blood and hair samples of 106 children 7 to 9 years of age from East Liverpool and surrounding communities, who enrolled in the study from March 2013 to June 2014.

Working with a trained registered nurse from East Liverpool, participants and their caregivers were also given cognitive assessments and questionnaires at the time the samples were taken.

The study found that increased Manganese in hair samples was significantly associated with declines in full-scale IQ, processing speed, and working memory.

After concerns of elevated airborne levels of Manganese, the school district superintendent in East Liverpool requested testing students for the element along with neuropsychological tests.

A pilot study overseen by Haynes found levels of Mn at double the level in children from the other CARES study cohort, and further investigation was pursued to examine the association between Mn exposure and child cognition.

Located in northeast Ohio along the Ohio River, East Liverpool has a demonstrated history of environmental exposures, with EPA records showing elevated levels of manganese concentrations since 2000.

In 2005, East Liverpool was deemed by the EPA to be a potential environmental justice area, afflicted with major environmental exposures.

A 2010 EPA report noted manganese concentrations detected by all monitors in East Liverpool had "consistently exceeded" health-based guidelines set by the agency.

With a declining population of just 11,000, just 7.3 percent of East Liverpool residents have a college degree.

The full document of the EPA's consent decree with S.H. Bell can be viewed here: 


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