Claude Lawrence Cornett, Jr.

Cornett Environmental Consulting lcornett@en.com

2/4/2012 11:00 PM


Before a draft permit to install can be issued, the detailed engineering plans, specifications and other information submitted must be sufficient to allow clear understanding for technical review of the permit application, to provide assurance that the facility is designed and operated in accordance with applicable requirements.  For details, see paragraph (A)(1)(b) of OAC 3745-27-50 <http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3745-27-50> and other applicable regulations, legislation, and case law.  This information was not submitted by November 30, 2011, the date that the draft permit was issued.  Under the circumstances, the permit application was grossly incomplete; and the Ohio EPA demonstrated a lack of due diligence and issued an invalid draft permit.





Process Upsets and Fugitive Emissions:


During pyrolysis (dry distillation), if pressures within the system exceed the capability of the system to confine and appropriately control emissions, the resulting emissions and human health impacts can greatly exceed those from the stacks.  The ductwork, fans, layout, and air movers at the proposed installation have not been adequately defined to assure containment. Furthermore, the nature and locations of emergency release safety valves were not specified.


Available data on Kinsei Sangyo Gasifier technology shows that it uses a gravity fed vertical configuration. (2)    A common problem with such configurations is the sudden release of much of the contents of such chambers due to the collapse of bridged material above void spaces.  In blast furnaces, this process causes sudden releases of air pollution through safety valves, as those who watched Cleveland’s blast furnaces in the 1970s remember.  The oils, waxes, tar droplets, melting material, etc. from the pyrolysis process might cause the municipal waste to similarly adhere, bridge, collapse, etc. in the proposed system.  Such releases could have adverse effects on public health, safety, and the environment.


Similar uncontrolled emissions could also happen if a horizontal gasification process, such as rotary calciners or kilns, is selected.  A common problem within rotary thermal treatment processes is the formation of balls and rings of adhering materials whose subsequent behavior causes sudden releases of gases.  The phenomenon is called "puffing.” 


Furthermore, the oils, waxes, tar droplets, melting material, ash etc. from the pyrolysis process can be deposited in and clog ductwork, valves, and other components of the system downstream of the gasification modules, especially ductwork connecting gasification furnaces to each other and to combustion furnaces.


These types of problems, as well as operator error and other process upsets, commonly accounted for most of the observed adverse air pollution impacts of emerging energy technologies. (3)  Because the proposed technology includes eight batch gasification furnaces and trained and experienced operators are rare, the likeliness of these problems is multiplied. 


The failure of municipal waste gasification/incineration systems is common.(16)  At last report, no full-scale municipal waste gasifier/incinerator has been granted a permit to operate in the United States. (6)   The release of combustible gases from treatment chambers can cause explosions, as illustrated by the explosion at a municipal waste gasification incinerator in Karlserue, Germany.(4) 


No test data is available on the proposed process using Cleveland’s municipal waste, and the specific process to be used has not been adequately defined.  Appropriate tests are needed to establish the safety, stability, and effectiveness of the specific process to be used. 


In addition, any associated emissions need to be included in the projected emission inventory for the proposed installation (not just emissions through the smokestack) and in modeling of emissions and their impacts on ambient air quality. These emissions should be considered when deciding at what percentage of capacity the proposed installation can be allowed to operate, etc.


Solid Waste Handling:


In the 1970s, a multimillion-dollar study by NASA (in collaboration with the Cleveland Division of Air Pollution Control, the Cleveland Clinic, and Blue Cross) revealed high cancer levels in Cleveland caused air pollution from the former Republic Steel coke ovens.  These were largely due to uncontrolled emissions during the discharge of coke and from leaks in the ovens.  Despite an attempt by Cleveland former Mayor Perk to cover them up, those findings resulted in enough public pressure to shut down the worst of the ovens and seal leaks and install and operate pollution control equipment on the coke discharge process on the others.


The proposed batch pyrolysis gasification process resembles that of a coke oven.  However, coke ovens pyrolyze coal, and the proposed process pyrolyzes municipal waste in a gasification process that is much more complicated than a conventional coke oven. 


Municipal waste pyrolysis creates benzene, other aromatic compounds, organochlorines, dioxins, furans, unstable, chemically reactive compounds, other carcinogens, and flammable gases, oils, tars, and aerosols.(1)(5)   This indicates that air pollution emissions from very short duration processes associated with the removal of residual ash and solids from the gasifiers, emergency pressure relief, and leaks can pose a major threat to human health and the environment. Under the circumstances, the three-minute exclusion from the prohibition of visible emissions from ash removal in the proposed permit might allow frequent and environmentally significant releases during normal daily operations.  Furthermore, the gases that may be released when ash is discharged from the pyrolysis modules could contain significant amounts of oxides of nitrogen and other invisible components.  The details need to be proposed, evaluated, and appropriate monitoring, modeling, pollution control, and reporting required before issuing a draft permit to install.   




The oils, tars, etc produced by the pyrolysis of municipal waste are known to be highly odoriferous, (5)   In addition, atmospheric emissions associated with the proposed steam compression pelletization process could also create a significant odor problem. The need to control odors from the proposed installation need to be evaluated and, if necessary, addressed more specifically in the draft permit than simply citing the nuisance regulations, as was done on Page 7 item 8 of the draft permit.    


Maintenance and Air Emissions from Contaminated Water


Atmospheric emissions and adverse impacts on public health and the environment are possible from maintenance activities, wastewater, scrubber water, and other air pollution control and steam compression pelletization byproduct management and disposal processes -- unless appropriately prevented and/or controlled. 


The specifications for the specific equipment and procedures to be used for these purposes need to be described and evaluated before a permit to install should be granted.  This is especially true given the competitive bidding process and the potential impacts of atmospheric emissions on human health and the environment.




On Page 15, Paragraph c (1), the daily collection and analysis of representative grab samples of syngas is required.  Much of the heating value of the fuel that exits the pyrolysis system may be in the form of aerosols and particulate matter containing oils, waxes and tars.  These need to be appropriately sampled and included in the inventory of the heat content of the syngas.  At least one specific and appropriate method of syngas (and associated aerosol, etc) sampling and analysis needs to be proposed and approved before a permit to install should be granted.  In addition, a specific method needs to be specified for determining the annual cumulative heating value of the syngas and associated aerosols, corrected for natural gas usage.


The gasification of waste occurs in various stages in a batch process over an extended period of time, during which the volume rate of flow of gases and amounts of chemicals in process streams will vary.  In addition, the average composition of the municipal waste varies by season, and the detailed composition varies over much shorter durations.   The specific timing, process conditions, and methods to be used for compliance sampling and analysis and for the determination of the Btu content of the gas and aerosols burned (and the portion that is biogenic) need to be appropriately specified to assure compliance with associated requirements at all times. 


Given the short durations in which puffing can take place, average opacities should be measured every second or two, and an appropriate frequency of recording opacities needs to be specified.  This is pertinent to Page 24, section 4 Paragraph a.  In addition, appropriate regulation, continuous monitoring, and reporting of fugitive emission opacities should be required.


The proposed monitoring and reporting of process conditions is inadequate to detect if pollution control equipment is maintained and operated properly.  For example, for the baghouse, only pressure drop monitoring is required in the draft permit.  See Paragraph 5 on pages 24 and 25 for details.  While such monitoring can detect gross failures of baghouses, it is not sensitive enough to detect if bags need to be replaced etc. to maintain at least the efficiency that the baghouse had during compliance testing.  Under the circumstance, the use of continuous, sensitive, properly calibrated, and maintained fabric filter leak detection systems should be required for all baghouses.  


In addition, appropriate regulation, continuous monitoring, and reporting of all potentially significant sources of emissions should be required, including fugitive emission opacities and associated gaseous emissions. 




Given that:

*        The actual proposal is extremely vague, containing no details about key aspects of the proposed technology, such as how ash is unloaded from the gasifier and any associated procedures to prevent significant toxic gas emissions, how well it works on Cleveland’s municipal waste, etc.

*        Emission estimates are based on unsupported manufacturer’s specifications and other information that can not be verified, for example:

o       The concentrations of lead, mercury, sulfur, chlorine and other substances in the proposed pelletized municipal waste to be gasified and burned have not been measured, and this information is necessary to credibly estimate emissions and impacts on ambient air quality

o       The technology proposed has never been used on pelletized Cleveland Municipal Waste

*        Only the impacts of stack emissions on ambient air quality were modeled.

o       No fugitive atmospheric emissions were included in the emission estimates and in the modeling of ambient air quality impacts.

o       Potentially significant sources of such fugitive emissions include ash unloading (especially from the pyrolysis modules), process upsets, the treatment of pollution control byproducts, etc were not included in the modeling

o       Fugitive emissions could be significant, given the low bid nature of government contracting and the lack of pertinent specifications in the proposal, draft permit, and associated submissions 

o       No process upsets were modeled

o       Fugitive emissions and emissions from process upsets will usually occur at or near ground level, often within the turbulent wake of the building, where the amounts of dilution are much less than those associated with stack emissions

*        Many toxic contaminants that could have adverse impacts on human health and the environment are currently unregulated by Ohio EPA


It cannot be credibly concluded that the facility, as proposed, will actually emit pollutants at levels that comply with the limits in the applicable new source performance standards or that the modeling performed is a credible demonstration of compliance with the applicable regulations, guidelines, and policies.





Draft Permit:


While the draft permit addresses pollution control and emissions through the smokestack, no other pollution controls or limits on other sources of emissions were specified in the permit application or the permit, except some water sprays for pre-processing, cyclones, and baghouses on some of the material handling, and opacity limits that can be exceeded for short durations.  The emptying of solids from the gasification module and process upsets are of great concern.  Potential emissions in a few seconds can have adverse safety and environmental consequences. 


Appropriate short duration maximum opacity limitations are needed -- rather than allowing unlimited opacities in puffs, etc from the facility. On page 21, item j and page 37 items 1 b and 1c, the visible emissions limit for stacks of a six-minute average of 10% opacity, would allow up to 36 seconds of high emissions with 100% opacity to exit the stack within six minute intervals. 


Limiting visible emissions from ash handling to 5% of hourly observations would also allow three minutes of very high opacities every hour, such as might occur if ash, aerosols, and associated gases are not properly controlled during the removal of ash from the proposed system.  Under the circumstances, the maximum average opacity over any two-second duration should be limited to no more than 20%.


Unless appropriate measures are taken to regulate the process and prevent or control such emissions, the impacts of the proposed municipal waste gasification process might be dominated by such short duration emissions, causing cancer and death. 


In addition, mercury emissions were higher in the draft permit than in the application.  Given the widespread mercury contamination in fish, etc, it is important to keep mercury emissions as low as possible.  The values in the permit application indicate that it is easily possible.


Furthermore, smokestack emission limitations are stated as concentrations and total tons per year in the draft permit.  Emission limitations that are merely stated as concentrations can be met by dilution.  In addition, without specifying a temperature, concentrations limits in units of mass per cubic meter can be met by heating.   It is suggested that all concentration limits be adjusted to 7 percent oxygen dry basis at standard conditions, in accordance with Table 1 to Subpart EEEE of part 60.  Some of the concentrations in this table are lower than those in the draft permit, and some are higher.  The lower of the aforementioned concentrations should be used in the permit.


To make matters worse, only generic process unit types were specified in the permit application and the draft permit.  The draft permit does not require the submission and approval of the pertinent detailed specifications for the specific hardware to be installed and key associated parameters.  Considering the possibilities under low bid contracts, it would be a violation of due diligence to issue a permit to install before the submission, review and approval the ductwork, fans, layout, air movers, etc used to contain fugitive emissions, along with detailed specifications and performance of the specific pyrolysis-gasification and other hardware to be installed.


No credible engineering data was provided to document likely compliance with the performance specifications regarding emissions specified in the permit application or draft permit for the proposed installation and associated operation when applied to Cleveland’s municipal waste.  It is an extreme gamble to speculate that the proposed installation will meet even the inadequate requirements in the proposed permit. 


Credible  information from tests of similar full scale applications of  that equipment on representative samples of pelletized municipal waste streams are needed to provide reasonable assurance that it will meet the specified emission limitations and not cause unreasonable risks to public health or the environment. The nature of Cleveland’s municipal waste varies day to day and season to season, and the tests need to consider this.   Given the failure of other attempts to operate municipal waste gasification/incineration systems (16)  and the potential threat to safety, public health and the environment from failure (as well as the cost), such information should be required before issuing a permit to install--especially in a densely populated urban area.


The US EPA used to have an exemption from complying with its emission standards during shakedown, malfunction, etc.  Those exemptions were overturned by a court in 2008; and the standards apply during shakedown, malfunctions, etc. (7)   Under the circumstances, any exclusions of shakedown and process upsets from meeting permit conditions are not justified.  The year given after operations begin for applying for a permit to operate (on Page 9, item 12) is far too long, given the lack of experience regarding the application of the proposed technology to Cleveland’s municipal waste.  Malfunctions and excess emissions during shakedown are likely on new processes, and the possibility exists that some might have deadly consequences. 


Furthermore, adequate monitoring to detect and quantify such emissions and the reporting of the results are not provided.  Such emissions could trigger the applicability of MACT and PSD requirements and/or further restrictions on the combined capacity at which the installation is allowed to operate.  This should be explicitly recognized in the permit to install, along with pertinent details.


Finally, a variety of other toxic and highly carcinogenic compounds besides those few toxic substances specified in the draft permit can be produced during pyrolysis.  They were not addressed in the draft permit. Adequate data has not been provided on the amounts of such emissions and associated risks to public health and the environment. 


Fundamental Flaws in the Regulatory Process:


The regulatory process for emerging thermal treatment technologies for municipal waste is fundamentally flawed.


NEPA and Limited Authority to Regulate:  Section 129 h (3)b and a(4) of the Clean Air Act of 1990  states that EPA can only consider and regulate particulate matter (total and fine), opacity, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen chloride, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, lead, cadmium, mercury, dioxins and dibenzofurans from municipal solid waste combustion.(13)   This and the lack of a budget to address these technologies in regulatory development(14) resulted in US EPA issuing the same standards for emerging technologies, such as pyrolysis and gasification followed by incineration, as for conventional mass burn incineration.  Major differences exist in the complexity and potential dangers to public health and the environment of these technologies. 


The proposed project, if not as successful as its proponents allege, may transform Cleveland’s economy by driving Cleveland Public Power into bankruptcy, and perhaps drag the City of Cleveland into bankruptcy along with it -- unless the increased electrical rates and waste disposal costs merely drive businesses away, reduce employment, and tax income.  Under the circumstances, a full environmental impact statement (EIS) should be provided covering all recycling and waste treatment and disposal options to help provide decision-makers information needed to make informed decisions before proceeding with the proposed installation. The EIS and associated review procedure should comply with all substantive requirements for such studies under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),(14) even though compliance is voluntary unless Federal funds are involved in the proposed installation.   Furthermore, the changes in truck traffic and associated increases in congestion, air pollution, and noise may be sufficient to require an environmental assessment or impact statement.  


Ohio EPA Regulations for Air Toxics: The use of 10% of TLVs (adjusted for time to make it 1/42 of TLVs) as limits for ambient air quality impacts for the few toxic pollutants specified in the permit application has not been shown to be protective of public health.  This is illustrated by applying the formula to the 5000 ppb TLV for sulfur dioxide, where the concentration considered by OEPA to be acceptable is 119ppb. The national primary ambient air quality standard for sulfur dioxide is 75 ppb as a 99th percentile of 1-hour daily maximum concentrations, averaged over 3 years [75 FR 35520, Jun 22, 2010].  


TLVs are intended to be airborne concentrations (or short- term or ceiling concentrations) to which normal, healthy, industrial workers may be exposed for 5 days (at 8 hr/day) or 40 hours per week without adverse health effects.  They are not intended to protect everybody, nor were they intended to be used or to undergo modification for use in the evaluation or control of community air pollution.  About 10% of individuals are judged hypersusceptible and are adversely affected at the TLVs. (9)


For good reason, the US EPA used much lower fractions of TLVs, ranging from 1/100 to 1/1000 to indicate levels that were acceptable in the 1970s.(10)  This was before they developed more sophisticated procedures, involving slope factors for carcinogens and inhalation reference doses for threshold toxic pollutants, to regulate and assess human health risks from air pollution.  Such procedures are used in Ohio EPA’s Brownfields voluntary action program (VAP) and in Superfund risk assessments.


Under the circumstances, the procedure used by OEPA to compute maximum acceptable ground-level concentrations (MAGLC) on pages 29 and 30 of the draft permit has not been established as adequate to protect sensitive members of the general public.  Furthermore, the risks to public health and the environment associated with emissions of all of the toxic air pollutants listed under OAC Rule 3745-114-01(15) and/or the VAP program needs to be evaluated using up to date risk assessment methods, such as those in Superfund programs. This risk assessment needs to include stack emissions, fugitive emissions, and any additional emissions from ash and pollution control system byproduct management.


Sham Permit: The use of heat input restrictions in the draft permit limiting the operating capacity of the proposed facility to no more than 72.24% of their combined capacity, etc. to barely avoid exceeding the regulatory thresholds for large municipal waste combustors that would trigger more stringent air pollution regulation is highly questionable. This limit did not include emissions other than those emitted through smokestacks and needs to be re-evaluated. This could lead to US EPA enforcement of regulations against sham permits and new requirements for the facility.  Furthermore, the draft permit is a sham because adequate monitoring and emission controls are not specified to verify that all emissions are below those thresholds.  Under the circumstances, the proposed installation should be designed and operated to comply with all regulatory requirements for large municipal waste combustors.


Record Keeping:  Maintaining records for only 5 years is far too brief.  Carcinogenic impacts from emissions often do not manifest until decades after exposure.  As a result, such records need to be kept for at least the lifetime of all people who could be exposed.


Waste Characterization: The characterization of Cleveland’s municipal waste does not include the measurement of the concentrations of lead, sulfur, mercury, cadmium and other chemicals in the feedstock that are necessary to accurately calculate emissions from even a conventional mass burn facility.  


Procedures used for Finalization of Permit to Install:  Typical procedures used for finalization of permits to install after the comment period on the draft permit is over are as follows:


1.      The permit engineer creates the "Preliminary Proposed Terms and Conditions document" after addressing any comments received from the public, facility, affected surrounding states or USEPA, and submits it to their Supervisor for approval

2.      The Supervisor modifies and/or approves the "Preliminary Proposed Terms and Conditions document" and forwards it to the Ohio EPA Central Office Engineering Section for approval

3.      The Engineering Section reviews and approves the "Preliminary Proposed Terms and Conditions

4.      document," locks it and forwards it to the PMU for issuance

5.      The "Preliminary Proposed Permit" is then issued to the facility. A copy of the "Preliminary Proposed Permit" is also sent to the DO/LAA. The facility then has fourteen (14) days from receipt of the permit to request a meeting if desired. If a request for a meeting is not received by the within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the letter, a Proposed Permit (as written, or with agreed-upon changes) is created and approved by the Central Office Engineering Section and sent to the USEPA via STARS for approval as a "Proposed Permit"

6.      Once the "Proposed Permit" is created and has been submitted by DAPC, the US EPA has forty-five (45) days from US EPA's receipt of the certified letter to review the "Proposed Permit." If the USEPA has no objection to the "Proposed Permit," a "Final Permit" will be issued

7.      The "Final Permit" is created electronically, locked, and issued to the facility, with a copy to USEPA, etc. Issuance of the "Director's Final Action" is public noticed and is appealable to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission.


This procedure does not include public disclosure and public hearings on the Preliminary Proposed Terms and Conditions document, any updates to the same, any new or amended Proposed Permits, and the final permit, if it is issued. 


Conflict of Interest:  The City of Cleveland’s role in this permit application and draft permit is a major conflict of interest that violates Paragraph e of Section 129 of the Clean Air Act.  Cleveland mayors and politicians have interfered in the environmental programs that it administered in the past.  The City of Cleveland’s municipal utility, Cleveland Public Power, is the applicant.  The City of Cleveland’s Division of Air Quality has played a central role in preparing and reviewing the permit application and is the contact for public comments on the proposal.  All of the employees in both of these agencies ultimately report to Mayor Frank Jackson, the chief proponent of this facility.(11)  The close administrative, financial, and other relationships between the City of Cleveland and the State of Ohio also call into question the legality of Ohio EPA issuing a permit for the proposed installation. 





The problems with the draft permit and associated application include:

*        Inadequate details for engineering review -- demonstrating a lack of due diligence  and inadequate information for issuing a draft permit.

o        Only generic block diagrams of major components and manufacturer’s unsupported claims were submitted along with regulatory limits

o        No control of gases from ash unloading from gasification modules was specified

o        No air pollution controls were specified for air pollution control system byproduct treatment (scrubber water treatment, etc)

o        Ductwork, fans, layout and air movers were not adequately defined to assure containment

o        Emergency pressure relief valves were not proposed

o        Low bid purchasing leaves many dangerous possibilities


*        No tests required prior to installation in Cleveland

o        The stability of the process is unknown on Cleveland municipal waste

o        High potential for dangerous emissions from process upsets and puffing

o        No analysis of sulfur, mercury, lead, etc in Cleveland municipal solid waste


*        Inadequate monitoring and reporting

o        A specific method was not specified for determining heating value of syngas and associated aerosols, corrected for natural gas usage

o        No short duration opacity monitoring and recording was required to detect puffing, emergency releases, etc.

o        No testing of emissions was specified, except through smokestacks and upstream equipment

o        Testing methods were not defined in enough detail considering the nature of the batch process and the variability of the waste to be processed

o        Not enough monitoring was required to determine if pollution control equipment is operating properly in between annual emission tests (no baghouse leak detectors, etc.)

o        Record keeping was only required for 5 years, yet cancer can result decades later


*        Modeling only covers stack emissions

o        Fugitive emissions typically occur at ground level or within the turbulent wake of buildings

o        Air pollution, noise and congestion from truck traffic were not covered


*        Regulatory Deficiencies

o        No short duration opacity limits were specified to address process upsets, puffing, etc

o        Only regulates 12 substances, many carcinogens etc. were not regulated

o        Higher emissions were allowed than in the permit application and federal regulations

o        The oxygen and temperatures applicable to stack concentration limits were not clearly specified

o        The draft permit does not require the submission and approval of environmentally significant specifications and few were submitted with the permit application

o        The permit does not require tests to establish applicability and stability of the gasifiers on Cleveland waste

o        The permit does not regulate potential severe hazards during shakedown and process upsets, etc

o        The requirements in the draft permit are fixed, and one needs to include flexibility to enable OEPA to add new requirements as information becomes available


*        Fundamental Flaws in regulatory process

o        The Cleveland Division of Air Quality has conflict of interest because its staff reports to the mayor of Cleveland (along with CPP staff), and OEPA is tied in.  Under the circumstances, the permit should be written by USEPA

o        No environmental impact statement is required because Clean Air Act excluded municipal waste incineration from NEPA and no equivalent analysis of reasonable alternatives was provided

o        The Clean Air Act limits air pollution regulation to 12 substances, and many more toxic and carcinogenic substance emissions are associated with gasification

o        EPA has no budget to develop regulations for MSW gasification and incineration

o        OEPA regulation of Air Toxics are not protective of public health

o        Sham permit:  Proposed heat input restrictions limit the operating capacity of the proposed installation to 72.24% of combined capacity to avoid tighter environmental regulations. Exactly how this will be done with eight batch gasifiers was not specified

o        No public review and hearings are specified in regulations after the comment period on the draft permit has expired, and major modifications to permit application and permit terms and conditions are possible


While some of these subjects are addressed by specific regulations, no set of regulations can explicitly address all significant dangers to public health, safety and the environment.  This is especially true for an emerging technology that has never been tested on Cleveland’s municipal waste. Fortunately, paragraph (H)(2) of OAC 3745-27-02 < http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3745-27-02> provides OEPA with the authority to issue in permits additional and more stringent terms and conditions when necessary to protect public health, safety, and the environment.





The draft permit is based on vague, generic block diagrams of the proposed installation, unsupported performance specifications, and minimal regulatory requirements for small, conventional incinerators. The gasification and incineration of municipal waste is much more complicated and prone to failure than conventional incineration. The documents considered by the Cleveland Division of Air Quality(17) demonstrate that it did not even have the details about the proposed Kinsei Sangyo Gasifier technology and associated equipment that are necessary to evaluate the safety and likeliness of the proposed technology to comply with environmental regulations and not harm public health or the environment.  Under the circumstances, the draft permit is invalid.


Informed decisions are needed before issuing a permit to install.  For an agency to issue a draft permit without the submission, review, and approval of pertinent, detailed specifications for the key hardware to be installed clearly violates due diligence.  Furthermore, Cleveland Public Power does not have staff or consultants with the necessary expertise to properly specify, design, and operate the proposed facility. The resulting potential competitive bid purchase, installation, and operation could pose a major threat to public health and the environment, as well as the City of Cleveland’s finances.  


The requirements in the draft permit focus on heat input and on stack emissions.  They fail to address many other sources of atmospheric emissions associated with the proposed installation -- especially those associated with ash unloading from the pyrolysis modules, process upsets, increased truck traffic, and pollution control byproduct management.  Furthermore, they fail to require the installation and use of sensitive baghouse leak detection systems and other procedures that are necessary to assure continuous compliance with emission limitations between annual sampling and associated compliance testing -- including two-second average opacity limits to address emissions from puffing, process upsets, material handling, etc.  These omissions should be corrected. 


In addition, the incineration and gasification processes take place in a batch process, during which process conditions, the use of fossil fuels, and associated emissions vary.  In addition, the average composition of the municipal waste varies by season, and the detailed composition varies over much shorter durations.   The specific timing, process conditions, and methods to be used for compliance sampling and analysis and for the determination of the Btu content of the gas and aerosols burned (and the portion that is biogenic) need to be appropriately specified to assure compliance with associated requirements at all times. 


When the emission limitations proposed in permit applications, those in Ohio EPA regulations, and those in US EPA regulations differ, those that are the most protective of public health and the environment should be required.  The draft permit often specifies those that are the least protective.  This is not surprising given the relationship between the Cleveland Division of Air Quality and officials of the City of Cleveland who are proposing and promoting the installation.  This conflict of interest clearly violates the Clean Air Act.  The close administrative, financial, and other relationships between the City of Cleveland and the State of Ohio also call into question the legality of Ohio EPA issuing a permit for the proposed installation. 


Under the circumstances, the proposed permit should be utterly rejected.  Any permits for installation and operation should be written and issued directly by US EPA Region 5, acting in close collaboration with the US EPA office of Compliance in Washington DC and the US EPA Office of Air and Radiation in Research Triangle Park North Carolina. 


No environmental impact statement (EIS) has been issued, reviewed, and approved concerning Cleveland’s proposed waste management program.  Since the proposed action could have significant environmental and economic impacts, an environmental impact statement should issued, reviewed, and approved for Cleveland’s municipal waste management programs.  The US EPA should be funded to provide the necessary EIS, utilizing contractors who have no financial interest in the selection of any particular alternative.  It should contain a meaningful comparison of the potential economic and environmental impacts of the proposal and associated regulations with the potential environmental impacts of a strengthened recycling and composting program, along with other alternatives.  The methods used for risk assessment and the list of substances considered in this EIS should be at least as comprehensive as those used in EPA Superfund programs.


The necessary funding for prompt and appropriate US EPA participation in this process should be provided by the permit applicant and the provider of the specific proposed pyrolysis-gasification/incineration technology. The City of Cleveland has already spent or allocated at least one and a half million dollars on biased and inadequate studies of its waste disposal options.(18)  At least this amount of funding should be provided to the US EPA to help do the job properly. 


The draft permit and associated documents demonstrate that severe limitations on the amount of waste that can be processed by the proposed facility are necessary for it to barely qualify for regulation as a small municipal waste combustor.  The dangers of a sham permit and wasted funding should be minimized by submitting a new permit application for an appropriate municipal waste management installation that can operate at full capacity without wasting money, recyclable resources, violating environmental regulations, and endangering public health and the environment.


A new draft permit should be prepared by US EPA only after enough information to evaluate the likely stability and performance of the proposed installation and its environmental impacts are submitted, evaluated, and approved.  This information should include:

*        The receipt and careful review of the specific plans, specifications and likely performance of all equipment, etc. that might have significant environmental impacts

*        The receipt and evaluation of the results of trial burns using the proposed gasification and incineration technology (if applicable) and representative samples Cleveland’s municipal waste, with particular attention to the variability of the pelletized waste and any behavior that could lead to process upsets and/or fugitive emissions   

*        Independent verification of vendor’s claims

*        Careful analysis of  the combined environmental impacts of all emissions and of the consequences of failure to meet these expectations

*        The explicit recognition of the inadequacies in the currently available data and regulations addressing the proposed technology

*        Appropriate coordination with the various regulatory agencies and departments of US EPA, Ohio EPA, the City of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County having jurisdiction over aspects of the proposed installation, operation, and emergency response


The detailed design and operation of the facility must be responsive to the best information available to protect public health and the environment to the maximum extent practical.  The permit should explicitly state that further permit requirements may be necessary and imposed addressing these matters as information becomes available. 


Public disclosure and public hearings should be held on any Preliminary Proposed Terms and Conditions documents, any updates to the same, any new or amended Proposed Permits., and the final permit, if it is issued  All such information should be posted to the public record and readily available from a website on the Internet. 


The claims made by the promoters of this project are similar to those put forward by other companies proposing similar installations.  Caution is necessary before allowing or investing in such proposed installations.  The technology is expensive, unreliable, and risky to community health, the environment, and the finances of the City of Cleveland.  Many technical and operational problems have not been addressed, and potential employment opportunities in recycling and composting are wasted. 


Recently, numerous U.S. cities, from Los Angeles, California to Anderson, Indiana have decided not to invest in such installations due to lack of reliability, other risks, misleading claims by technology vendors, etc.  (12)  The City of Cleveland, Ohio EPA, and the US EPA should do likewise.





(1)         Kwon Eiann; Westby, Kelly and Cstaldi, Marco, 2010. Transforming Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) into Fuel via the Gasification/Pyrolysis Process, NAQTC-18-3559, Proceedings of the 18th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference, Orlando FL http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/wtert/sofos/nawtec/nawtec18/nawtec18-3559.pdf

(2)         Kanneko, Masamoto, 1997.  Method Of Incinerating Waste Material By Way Of Dry Distillation And Gasification, United States Patent http://www.patents.com/us-5619938.html

(3)         Cornett, Claude, 1977-1978. Experience Visiting Emerging Energy Technologies under DOE Contract, Documented in Various Internal Memos associated with Guidelines for Multimedia Environmental Monitoring of Fossil Energy R&D Facilities, Volumes I and II  NTIS FE-2495-6-A01, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C.

(4)         Karlserue, Germany explosion: Bernhard Baldas, “Magic Gone from Mirile Garbage Weapon, [Entzauberte Müllwunderwaffe],” Die Tageszeitung [Germany] Aug. 2001.

(5)         Buzetzki, Eduard; Sidorova, Katarina; et al, 2011. Cracking of Municipal Waste in Fuel Production, 45th International Petroleum Conference, Bratislava, Slovak Republic http://www.vurup.sk/sites/default/files/downloads/49_ft_ipc_2011_cracking_of_municipal_wastes_19_5.pdf

(6)         Phone Contact 1/3/2012 by Claude Cornett with Marcia Mia, US EPA Air Compliance Branch, Compliance Assessment and Media Programs Division, Office of Compliance US EPA, Washington DC

(7)         Sierra Club v. EPA, 551 F.3d 1019 (D.C. Cir 2008)

(8)         The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (Pub. L. 91-190, 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347, January 1, 1970, as amended by Pub. L. 94-52, July 3, 1975, Pub. L. 94-83, August 9, 1975, and Pub. L. 97-258, § 4(b), Sept. 13, 1982) http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/regs/nepa/nepaeqia.htm

(9)         Buckley, T. 1986.  Toxic Air Pollutants: Regulations Based on Threshold Limit Values.  John Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health.  Baltimore, Maryland.

(10)     Engineering Science, Inc.  1987.  Background Information Document for the Development of Regulations to Control the Burning of Hazardous Waste in Boilers and Industrial Furnaces, Volume III, Risk Assessment, PB-1738445, U.S. EPA,  Waste Treatment Branch, Washington, DC.

(11)     Greenberg, Stuart; Trepal, Chris; Buchanan, Sandy; Cunningham, Randy; Fisk, Shannon; Mills, Teresa, 12/9/2011. Letter to Susan Hedman, US EPA Region 5, Chicago, IL

(12)     Wilson, Monica, 8/11/2011. Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Comments Concerning Permit 11-JJW-071 for Oneida Recycling Solutions fid# 405223720 and DNR’s Environmental Analysis and Decision on the Need for an Environmental Impact Statement, http://ubuntuone.com/7LPlyJhiveVJa4sdwNrrS9

(13)     Section 29 of the Clean Air Act (as amended November 15, 1990), http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/129/sec129.pdf

(14)     Phone Contact 12/14/11 by Claude Cornett with Warren Johnson, US EPA Office of Air and Radiation, Research Triangle Park, NC

(15)     Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3745-114 Toxic Air Contaminants, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3745-114-01.

(16)     Ciplet, David et al. June 2009.  An Industry Blowing Smoke - 10 Reasons Why Gasification, Pyrolysis & Plasma Incineration are Not “Green Solutions”, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Berkley, CA.  http://incineratorfreemecklenburg.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/blowingsmokereport.pdf

(17)     Cleveland Division of Air Quality and Cleveland Department of Law, Two CDs Containing Records of the Cleveland Division of Air Quality Associated with Draft Permit  P0107767 as of 12/27/2011, Received 1-5-2012 and Uploaded to Dropbox at file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Larry/My%20Documents/Dropbox/ClevelandDrPermitRecords%5BReceived%201-5-2012%5D/PRR%2011-2093%20CPP%20Ridge%20Road/

(18)     Campbell, Maude L. December 7, 2011.  The Mysterious Mister Tien -- The Man Who Sold Cleveland On Visions Of Prosperity Isn't All He Claims To Be. Scene Magazine, http://www.clevescene.com/gyrobase/the-mysterious-mister-tien/Content?oid=2772517&storyPage=1





Under US EPA contract, I wrote the background documents on human health risk assessment and permit writers guidelines for US EPA regulations for the thermal treatment and incineration of hazardous waste.  I also wrote and reviewed many human health impact assessment reports for incineration and other waste treatment processes under Superfund and other programs.  In addition, I wrote the air pollution and human health impact sections of US EPA and DOE guidance for environmental monitoring and impact assessment for gasification processes and operated calciners, kilns and incinerators.  


I wrote environmental compliance handbooks for municipal refuse fired boilers and power plants, along with key sections of permit applications.


I served as the principal investigator responsible for human health and air pollution impact assessment for a programmatic environmental impact statement for all of the U.S. Department of Energy’s environmental restoration and waste management programs.  I also was the Zone Program Manager supervising a 21-person U.S. EPA Technical Assistance Team that provided risk assessment, chemical safety audits, investigations, corrective measures studies, and emergency response planning, training, and program evaluation.  


In addition, I operated, maintained, evaluated, and measured emissions from incinerators, kilns, calciners and associated equipment; and wrote environmental compliance handbooks for municipal waste fired boilers.


Finally, I was the technical liaison to NASA in the aforementioned study of the impacts of air pollution in Cleveland while supervising all ambient air sampling and continuous monitoring for the Cleveland Division of Air Pollution Control.  


I am currently retired except for voluntary work to protect human health and the environment.  For details on my resume, see http://cornettenv.org/resume.htm.





Claude Lawrence Cornett, Jr.

Cornett Environmental Consulting

2450 West 6 St., Apt UpS

Cleveland, OH 44113-4527

(216) 583-0007