Read the full article by Justin Dennis (Mahoning Matters)
“A hazardous waste incinerator in the city is one of several sites across the country that must stop burning material containing toxic chemicals known as PFAS, under a moratorium enacted late last month by the U.S. Department of Defense.
The most recent National Defense Authorization Act required the Defense Department to stop incinerating material containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, after April 26, until it finalizes new guidance for their safe disposal, according to a department memo issued last month.
The more than 30-year-old incinerator along Saint George Street in East Liverpool, operated by Heritage Thermal Services (formerly known as WTI), has been federally contracted to burn aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, which was used as a firefighting tool by the U.S. military and at airports and industrial sites nationwide.
But that foam contains PFAS, which are colloquially called ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t break down in the environment, and instead contaminate water sources and accumulate in fish and wildlife.
PFAS ‘can be linked to higher rates of certain cancers, higher cholesterol levels, suppressed immune systems, fertility issues in women, and weakened antibody responses to vaccinations among children,’ according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When asked by Mahoning Matters whether PFAS incineration has stopped at the East Liverpool site, spokespersons for the Department of Defense did not directly respond. Congress in 2019 required the Defense Department to ensure all PFAS were incinerated at the proper temperature to reduce toxic air emissions. But it’s unclear what that temperature is.
Attorneys for nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice sued the Defense Department in 2020 on behalf of local activists and the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s largest environmental advocacy organizations, arguing that the Defense Department can’t know whether the foam is being disposed of safely at the East Liverpool site, Mahoning Matters reported in February.”…