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Cleveland Pursues Permit for Waste-to-Energy Facility, But May Not Build

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After years of study and public debate, the city of Cleveland is still pursuing a permit from the Ohio EPA for a plant that converts trash into energy. Residents, environmentalists and elected officials turned out at a hearing this week and called for the EPA to reject the permit. ideastream's Nick Castele and intern Eve O'Connor report.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 6:29 pm

The Ohio EPA has already given the waste-to-energy project a draft permit, saying the plan complies with its standards. But at this hearing, agency officials asked for any new information that might change their minds about giving the plan the final go-ahead.

Nearly thirty people testified -- all in opposition. They worried mercury and lead emissions would put neighbors’ health at risk.

Nathan Rutz with environmental group Ohio Citizen Action says the county already has pollution problems, and sustainable alternatives make more sense.

RUTZ: “The people of Cleveland are in favor of more recycling, and no incinerator; we’d also like to see composting happen, and the great thing is that’s what the city’s own consultants told them is a better option than the incinerator.”

The city has already slimmed down the scope of the facility after pushback last year from the public and the U.S. EPA. And it’s questionable whether the city will build the plant at all.

Ken Silliman, the mayor’s chief of staff, says right now, the energy produced by the plant would be too costly.

SILLIMAN: “But we have not completely dismissed that alternative, and that’s why we continue to move forward on seeking the air permit.”

The Ohio EPA could make a decision as soon as this summer.