Hazardous Waste

Issues Pertaining to an Incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio Gao ID: RCED-94-101 September 9, 1994

About five million tons of hazardous waste are incinerated each year in the United States. About half of this is burned in 20 commercial incinerators and 24 cement kilns that take commercial waste. Public opposition to incineration has been strong in recent years. Some have become skeptical about the management of commercial incinerators, the ability of government agencies to regulate them, and whether existing laws and regulations adequately protect public health and the environment. A hazardous waste incinerator run in East Liverpool, Ohio has become the focus of national attention over the process by which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved permits for the facility. This report examines (1) the operational control and ownership of Waste Technologies Industries (WTI), which runs the East Liverpool incinerator, and whether its hazardous waste permit is valid; (2) whether EPA and the state of Ohio have complied with regulations for approving and modifying the WTI permits; and (3) EPA's ability to ensure that human health and the environment are protected during the operation of the WTI incinerator.

GAO found that: (1) several of the companies that made up the original partnership have changed, as well as the operational responsibility for the facility; (2) although the corporate partners have changed several times and all of the partners are now owned by the same corporation, the company's ownership has not changed; (3) EPA has generally followed regulatory requirements in permitting the incinerator; (4) EPA has not required the company to provide an engineering analysis to show that its proposed flood protection devices would be able to withstand a 100-year flood; (5) EPA has not conducted an alternative site analysis as required by a federal executive order on floodplain development; (6) EPA and the public could benefit from increased public participation in the permitting process; (7) EPA has established performance standards that the incinerator must meet when burning hazardous wastes and has required the facility to conduct a test to determine whether the incinerator could meet those standards before beginning full-scale operations; and (8) because of community concerns, EPA has gone beyond program requirements and is conducting a two-phase health risk assessment.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Team: Phone:

The Justia Government Accountability Office site republishes public reports retrieved from the U.S. GAO These reports should not be considered official, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Justia.