YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (TDB) -- Nobody has noticed yet that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday asked a federal judge to impose fines of up to $32,500 a day on Von Roll America Inc. for years of reputed Clean Air Act violations at its hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in East Liverpool.
The 21-page lawsuit, Case No. 4:06cv2893, was filed Dec. 1 in Youngstown and contends the company has been operating outside the rules controlling pollution from benzene waste. Boiled down to its basics, the EPA says in its lawsuit that the site was sloppily run. The agency did not total up the amount of fines it wants to collect. It also is seeking a permanent injunction to eliminate any future problems. Benzene is a chemical suspected of causing cancer.
This is the giant Ohio River Valley waste-treatment complex that probably had a part in former Vice President Al Gore's dashed hopes of carrying Ohio in the 2000 presidential election. Ralph Nader, playing his role as a spoiler to the hilt, made waves by accusing Democrat Gore of breaking a promise he made in 1992 to close down the Von Roll waste incinerator in East Liverpool. Nader was echoing widespread sentiment in the area (which borders western Pennsylvania). He said Gore was guilty of 7 years of ''double-talk and delays." Gore had said of a Clinton-Gore Administration, "We'll be on your side for a change," which reassured some Ohioans that the incinerator would never be allowed to operate under a Democratic administration.
Today, Gore is out of office and picking up plaudits for his pro-environment film, An Inconvenient Truth, that warns about air-pollution and global warming. And residents of the Upper Ohio River Valley are still living alongside what the new EPA action describes as a scary neighbor in their midst. (Note: So far the Von Roll's lawyers have not had time to formally respond to the federal lawsuit.)