COLUMBUS — As of May 4, 2010, Baard Energy had no “contract with any vendor to construct any portion of Phase I, II, or III of the [Ohio River Clean Fuels coal refinery],” according to Anthony Giuliani, an attorney for Baard Energy. The admission came in response to a “Request for Production of Documents” by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club as part of litigation over the air pollution permit for the proposed coal refinery. The complete text of document request #14 and Giuliani’s answer follows:
14. Produce a copy of any contract with any vendor to construct any portion of Phase I, II, or III of the ORCF [Ohio River Clean Fuels coal refinery] Facility.
Answer: Subject to and without waiving the foregoing objections, ORCF states that there are no responsive documents.
In everyday use, “vendor” is a retail salesperson without an established place of business, such as a street vendor or a ballpark vendor. In business, however, “vendor” refers to any company that supplies parts or services to another company.
Ohio Citizen Action obtained a copy of the document through a public records review at the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission.
– Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action
CLEVELAND — The air pollution permit for the proposed Baard Energy coal refinery expired two months ago, according to a legal filing with the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission by two national environmental organizations. The Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club note in their brief that Baard Energy had neither begun construction, entered into contracts, nor requested a permit extension from Ohio EPA by May 20, 2010, eighteen months after the permit was granted.
In their motion, the groups ask the Commission to either vacate or revoke the proposed coal refinery’s air pollution permit. Baard Energy has not responded to this filing and the Commission has not ruled on the motion.
Ohio Citizen Action obtained a non-confidential copy of the July 13 motion through a public records review at the Commission.
The Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease law firm had announced in June that it was withdrawing as legal counsel for Baard Energy. On July 1, Christopher Jones and Christopher Ward of the Calfee, Halter and Griswold law firm notified the Commission they would represent Baard in this case. Jones was the Ohio EPA Director under Governor Bob Taft.
The air permit case had originally been scheduled for June but was cancelled when Vorys abruptly withdrew. On July 15, the Commission gave the attorneys in the case until August 16 to file a case management schedule for a February 7, 2011 hearing.
— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action
CLEVELAND — Please join Ohio Citizen Action this Wednesday, July 28 in Cleveland and this Thursday, July 29 in Cincinnati to hear environmental activist Lois Gibbs tell the story of her work at Love Canal, New York. Lois Gibbs emerged as a leader within the community when she and others discovered that the local elementary school and their homes were built on a toxic waste dump. Lois helped to get 833 families relocated from Love Canal and helped to get cleanup of the area started.
On July 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Cleveland and July 29 at 4:00 p.m. in Cincinnati, Lois will share the lessons she learned during her work in order to help other communities struggling with pollution problems today. Lois Gibbs is the Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, a grassroots environmental group formed in 1980 to help other communities dealing with environmental justice issues across the country. The Cleveland event will be held at Pilgrim Church in Tremont, located at 2592 W. 14th St. and the Cincinnati event will be held at the Ohio Citizen Action office located at 2330 Victory Parkway, Suite 100. Both events are free and open to the public.
For further information contact Liz Ilg in Cleveland at 216.861.5200 x305 or Melissa English in Cincinnati at 513.221.2100.
Heartland Petroleum is owned by Columbus based Heartland Group Holdings.
This facility is located on the east side of Columbus and recycles used motor oil to be sold and reused. The Columbus Fire Department, area businesses, and passers-by began complaining to the Ohio EPA about the odors coming from Heartland Petroleum as soon as the facility opened in March 2009. Employees in neighboring businesses have been able to smell the sulfurous odor both outside and inside of their workplaces.
Heartland Petroleum has been cited by the Ohio EPA for continuously emitting sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride into the air, violating their permits. On December 14, Heartland Petroleum had a power failure which resulted in the release of hydrogen gas and hydrogen sulfide.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry—
Long-term exposure to persistent levels of sulfur dioxide can affect your health. Lung function changes were seen in some workers exposed to low levels of sulfur dioxide for 20 years or more. However, these workers were also exposed to other chemicals, so their health effects may not have been from sulfur dioxide alone. Asthmatics have also been shown to be sensitive to the respiratory effects of low concentrations of sulfur dioxide. Children who live in or near heavily industrialized areas where sulfur dioxide occurs may experience difficulty breathing, changes in the ability to breathe deeply, and burning of the nose and throat.
Hydrogen chloride is irritating and corrosive to any tissue it contacts. Brief exposure to low levels causes throat irritation. Exposure to higher levels can result in rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchioles, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs, and even death. Exposure to even higher levels can cause swelling and spasm of the throat and suffocation. Some people may develop an inflammatory reaction to hydrogen chloride.
Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes, nose, or throat. It may also cause difficulty in breathing for some asthmatics. Brief exposures to high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide (greater than 500 parts per million) can cause a loss of consciousness and possibly death. In most cases, the person appears to regain consciousness without any other effects. However, in many individuals, there may be permanent or long-term effects such as headaches, poor attention span, poor memory, and poor motor function. Because hydrogen sulfide is heavier than air and because children are shorter than adults, children sometimes are exposed to more hydrogen sulfide than adults. Health problems in children who have been exposed to hydrogen sulfide have not been studied much. Exposed children probably will experience effects similar to those experienced by exposed adults.
Heartland Petroleum has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a number of serious worker safety violations. Some of these violations have been fixed, but not all. Citations include —
• failure to label piping with flammable or combustible liquid
• not supplying protective equipment for employees handling hazardous materials
• not supplying eye wash stations for emergency use
• failure to supply blocks on energy supplies to equipment during maintenance
• failure to conduct routine inspection for controls on hazardous energy
• failure to provide adequate training to employees for emergency procedures and safe working practices to avoid electrical shock, chemical burns, and other injuries
• inadequate alarm system to alert employees of hazardous situations
Near-by businesses and residents are exposed to toxins by Heartland Petroleum because the company has been violating State of Ohio by—
• bypassing required pollution controls, including uncontrolled releases of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride
• repeated complaints of nuisance odors from neighboring businesses
• failing to conduct required emissions testing
• loading railcars without a permit, creating another source of air pollution
According to the Ohio EPA, these violations are “an imminent threat to human health and the environment.”
On December 14, 2009, Heartland Petroleum had a leak, which included hydrogen sulfide, causing the evacuation of 4,000 employees from area businesses. Officials from Heartland blamed a temporary power outage for the leak. American Electric Power said the facility was without power for no more than ten seconds.
On July 17, 2010, warm oil was spilled and came into contact with a hydrogen tank. A gasket blew, causing a pipe to catch fire.
What is the EPA doing?
On June 15, 2010, the State of Ohio filed a lawsuit against Heartland Refinery Group for their environmental violations. The trial assignment is set for June 14, 2011. This gives an entire year for Heartland Petroleum to continue to bypass pollution controls, ignore their permits, contaminate the local businesses and residents with toxins, and have more accidents. It is highly possible that this date will be pushed back even further, and there’s no guarantee how the court will rule, how strict it will be, how long the court will give Heartland to comply, nor how long it will actually take Heartland to comply.
For more information
Firefighters battle a blaze at the Rumpke Scrap Tire Facility early Thursday morning, July 22, 2010 in St. Clair Township.
ST. CLAIR TWP. — “The State Fire Marshal has ruled a fire at a Rumpke tire recycling center this morning, July 22, was accidental.
It was caused by friction and heat buildup in a conveyor belt system inside a building where tires are shredded, according to a release from the Fire Marshal that said criminal intent has been ruled out.
No one was injured in the fire, which caused approximately $200,000 in damage, according to the release.
Firefighters worked through the early morning hours today to keep down the fire at a Rumpke tire recycling facility in the 3800 block of South Street.”
— Josh Sweigart, Hamilton Journal-News
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Louisville, Kentucky and the Ohio River
CINCINNATI — On behalf of Ohio Citizen Action, I strongly urge you to hold a public hearing on the proposed new coal ash regulations in or around Louisville, Kentucky. None of the proposed Public Hearings regarding the Coal Combustion Residuals Rule, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-RCRA-2009-0640, are scheduled for locations in the Ohio River Valley area.
The Ohio River Valley is more saturated with coal combustion waste disposal sites than any other region in the country. The most recent Department of Energy statistics show that the Ohio River Valley states of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky are home to more than 6 million tons of coal ash. According to the most recent Department of Energy statistics, this is more than 30% of the nation’s entire coal waste. In addition, 15 of the 44 EPA high hazard sites are in the Ohio River Valley.
Millions and millions of people in the Ohio River Valley get our drinking water from the Ohio River, making the disposal and storage of coal ash waste in the valley extremely risky. Please reconsider your decision and hold a public hearing in Louisville, Kentucky.
— Rachael Belz, Coal Program organizer, Ohio Citizen Action
Read the letter
The USEPA is also accepting written comments on the proposed rule until September 20, 2010. Ohio Citizen Action is urging the USEPA to regulate coal ash with the stronger of the two proposals, called Subtitle C, rather than the more lax proposal of Subtitle D.
Montauk Energy operates three methane gas recovery facilities at Rumpke Landfill.
CINCINNATI — “The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued Rumpke a final air permit for a new thermal oxidizer at one of the methane gas recovery plants operated by Montauk Energy at the Rumpke Landfill, 10795 Hughes Road.
The new equipment replaces an older, smaller thermal oxidizer and is designed to limit odors coming from the methane gas recovery plant. The device will, however, have the potential to emit additional carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. The new thermal oxidizer will be limited to a maximum annual output of 69.77 tons per year of carbon monoxide and 16.52 tons per year of nitrogen oxides.”
— Cincinnati Enquirer
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CLEVELAND — Baard Energy has failed to meet a July 14 court deadline to respond to a lawsuit. for unpaid bills filed by contractor CH2MHill, according to the docket of the U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Ohio. CH2MHill sued Baard in March for “over $75,000” for work performed for the Baard Energy proposed coal refinery in Wellsville, Ohio. Baard has not only failed to answer the lawsuit, but has not even registered the name of an attorney to represent the company in the case.
CH2MHill is apparently not the only contractor whom Baard has allegedly not paid for its work on this project. In a deposition filed at the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission, a representative of Civil and Environmental Consultants of Pittsburgh claimed the company is owed “a significant amount” of money, estimated at “over half” of its half a million dollar billings.
— Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Jimmy Weekley, 70, has been fighting the Spruce 1 coal project for a dozen years. The proposed mine would blast off the tops of peaks and fill in several stream beds above his home in Pigeonroost Hollow. (Todd Heisler/New York Times)
BLAIR, WV — “Federal officials are considering whether to veto mountaintop mining above a little Appalachian valley called Pigeonroost Hollow, a step that could be a turning point for one of the country’s most contentious environmental disputes.
The Army Corps of Engineers approved a permit in 2007 to blast 400 feet off the hilltops here to expose the rich coal seams, disposing of the debris in the upper reaches of six valleys, including Pigeonroost Hollow.
But the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, in a break with President George W. Bush’s more coal-friendly approach, has threatened to halt or sharply scale back the project known as Spruce 1. The agency asserts that the project would irrevocably damage streams and wildlife and violate the Clean Water Act.”
— Erik Eckholm, New York Times
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Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins
MARTINSVILLE, VA — “Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins wants city officials and electric customers alike to have the same information about the city’s participation in American Municipal Power (AMP) generation projects…
She said she understands that city residents have a lot of concerns about the city’s participation in the AMP projects. ‘The council shares those concerns, just like the citizens,’ she said. ‘I share the concerns’ as well. She said she wants officials ‘to give the city a complete picture of how the city acquires electricity.’ ‘We need to get AMP to explain every dollar’ that so far has been spent on the projects, said Councilman Danny Turner.
— Mickey Powell, Martinsville Bulletin
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EAST LIVERPOOL — “The Columbiana County Port Authority has again extended a series of property purchase/option agreements for the Baard Energy project, but this will likely be the last time…
This is the third time the port authority has extended the agreements since it was awarded a $4.5 million state loan in January 2009 to purchase 522 acres outside of Wellsville on behalf of Baard Energy, which intends to build a $6 billion plant that converts coal and biomass into synthetic jet and diesel fuel. The port authority has been forced to extend the option agreements because of Baard’s inability to secure financing for the project.”
— Tom Giambroni, Lisbon Morning Journal
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COLERAIN TOWNSHIP — In 2005, Colerain Township drafted a comprehensive plan laying out a vision for future development that specifically excluded expansion of the Rumpke Sanitary Landfill. The plan, drafted by Colerain Township trustees and administrative staff, with input from residents, broke down Ohio’s most populous township into eleven separate “character areas,” each with its own profile, vision, development policies and land use guidelines. According to the community plan, one of the unsuitable land use guidelines for the character area that includes the landfill was expansion of the landfill.
It was during the drafting of the plan that Colerain Township learned that Rumpke intended to further expand the landfill, prompting the following analysis:
“The major problem is that while the landfill has been in the Township for more than 50 years, development in the last two decades has brought high-density residential development within close proximity to the site. In addition, up until recent years, it was the understanding of Township officials and residents that the land around the landfill was acquired for the purpose of buffering landfill operations. Now it is known that the acquisition was part of an effort to further expand the landfill to Buell Rd. and to double the size of the current landfill.”
— Melissa English, Southern Ohio Campaign Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Read in the Cincinnati Enquirer about Colerain Township development plans.
COLUMBUS — “Fire crews battled a blaze at an oil refinery on Saturday night after a passing motorist noticed smoke coming from one of the tanks. Crews were called to Heartland Petroleum, located at 4001 East 5th Avenue, on the city’s east side, around 10:30 p.m., 10TV News reported. An oil tank at the business was on fire. Employees were evacuated and no injuries were reported.
Firefighters said crews were transporting warm oil when some of it spilled near a hydrogen tank, blowing out a gasket, and causing a pipe to catch fire. ‘I think it’s just a natural hazard that can occur when you’re moving hot oil around and you’re moving this around,’ said Battalion Chief Michael Fowler. ‘There’s safeties and everything to shut everything down. There are release valves for everything, but accidents are going to occur.’”
— 10TV News
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