A look at Columbiana Co. incinerator selected to burn East Palestine toxic waste
A hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool with a checkered past has been selected to burn the toxic dirt from the February 3 train derailment site in East Palestine.
On Sunday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Heritage Thermal Services in East Liverpool was approved for Norfolk Southern to transport contaminated soil for burning.
FEMA will hold a press conference Monday at 4 p.m. Click here to watch it live.
The hazardous waste incinerator opened in December 1992 and has been fined for violating federally mandated air quality laws and battled multiple lawsuits.
In 2007, the incinerator - then operated under the name Waste Technologies Industries - agreed to pay more than $750,000 to settle the claims over emissions from chemicals in storage while awaiting incineration. There was no evidence that anyone was hurt by the emissions, and WTI denied any wrongdoing.
In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the hazardous-waste incinerator released dangerous toxins into the air over the past four years, exposing those nearby to chemicals that can cause cancer, miscarriages, and early death.
In 2016, plaintiffs Save Our County filed a lawsuit against Heritage Thermal over excess emissions in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The case was settled on March 1, 2017.
The federal agency found shared that the incinerator in Columbiana County emitted gases that contained high levels of toxic chemicals 195 times between November 2010 through December 2014, and stated the emissions occurred through mechanical failures and operator errors.
A lawsuit was filed in February of 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against the East Liverpool incinerator by Save Our County, The Sierra Club against the operators which is still in court, over concerns of burning hazardous waste from the U.S. military.
The US EPA held a public comment period from August of 2020 through January 20, 2021 on the renewal license for the hazardous waste facility.
A fire was reported at the facility on June 27, 2022. In a statement, Waste Technologies said no hazardous waste was involved in the fire, and no one was injured.
21 News reached out to Hermitage Thermal, who supplied this response:
'Heritage Thermal Services (HTS) has been engaged to support the cleanup following the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. HTS is providing support at the site in accordance with the cleanup plan approved by government agencies with jurisdiction over the response to the event.
Materials eligible for high-temperature destruction will be processed at the HTS facility in East Liverpool, Ohio, which is located about 20 miles due south of East Palestine.
The facility is fully permitted to manage the materials generated by cleanup activities at the derailment site. HTS stands ready to do its part to help the protect human health and the environment of its East Palestine neighbors.'