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Toxic Burn

Toxic Burn: The Grassroots Struggle against the WTI Incinerator

Thomas Shevory
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Toxic Burn
    Book Description:

    Toxic Burn is a gripping account of the activist movement against the imposing WTI incinerator in the rust belt town of East Liverpool, Ohio. Thomas Shevory tells the story of building, maintaining, and resisting the incinerator and shows that the actions of determined citizens are essential to developing new environmental models and saving the lives of those in the path of potential disaster.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5424-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: East Liverpool and the Politics of Power
    (pp. 1-30)

    I traveled across the southern tier of New York. Just west of Erie, Pennsylvania, I turned straight south, down the eastern edge of Ohio. It was a pleasant enough drive, which took me past farms and small towns and around Youngstown, where congressman James Trafi cant had recently been tried and convicted on federal charges of accepting bribes, demanding kickbacks from his staff members, obstructing justice, and racketeering. He hadn’t yet decided whether to run for reelection. While he would undoubtedly be challenged in the Democratic primary, he threatened to run as an independent, potentially throwing the district to a...

  5. CHAPTER 1. Past as Prelude: History and Hazardous Waste
    (pp. 31-54)

    East Liverpool, Ohio, like other older and economically challenged cities of the northeastern and midwestern United States, has striking contrasts. On one side of town, you can find a commercial strip with numerous fast food joints and a huge Wal-Mart. This section of the city has the depressing feel that mass consumerism elicits in nearly every community where it is found, which includes any city of any size in the United States at this time. Commerce seems to have abandoned much of the downtown area, no doubt in proportion to the rate at which the shopping strip expanded. Yet, like...

  6. CHAPTER 2. Be Careful What You Ask For: The Genesis of WTI
    (pp. 55-80)

    In a discussion with a colleague about my findings regarding the WTI incinerator, he mentioned seeing an art exhibition at Cornell’s Johnson Museum in which an artist, whose name he could not remember, had artistically mapped various corruption scandals, including those involving BCCI, Jackson Stephens, and the Rose Law Firm. My interest piqued, I contacted the museum to find out the name of the artist.

    Mark Lombardi, born in Syracuse, New York, was, at the age of forty, on the verge of being fully embraced by the New York art world. Lombardi had started with what is termed “neo geo...

  7. CHAPTER 3. The Center of the Onion: Property and Ownership
    (pp. 81-108)

    As the WTI facility progressed toward operation, one of the most vexing questions that surrounded it involved ownership. Over time, determining ownership of the facility became an increasingly difficult, if not impossible, undertaking. At the same time, the question of who owned the plant was important to its opponents, because ownership meant accountability. If health or environmental problems materialized or an accident occurred, the determination of ownership would be essential for determining legal liability. Knowing ownership was also important for technical reasons related to RCRA. RCRA required that once a permit was granted, for it to remain valid, ownership could...

  8. CHAPTER 4. Don’t Give Up the Fight: Rhetorics of Resistance
    (pp. 109-144)

    Environmental justice activism evolved during the 1980s, representing a more diverse set of faces within the environmental movement. Environmentalism, and its predecessor “conservation,” had been primarily associated with the preservation of wilderness until the appearance of Rachel Carson’sSilent Springin 1962.¹ Carson helped to spur a revolution in thinking about the relationship between the “human” and the “natural.” A naturalist who had before the success of her first book,The Sea around Us, worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carson viewed human and natural systems as interdependent.² She was the first popular author to expose the pervasiveness...

  9. CHAPTER 5. Risky Business: Counting the Costs of Incineration
    (pp. 145-196)

    Paul Connett teaches chemistry at St. Lawrence University. Connett was among the many people who dedicated time and expertise to WTI opposition. He had special knowledge of risk assessments. Terri Swearingen received the several-thousand-page WTI risk assessment document one day before a public hearing on it was to take place in Washington, D.C. She and Paul spent a day together scrutinizing its findings. A snowstorm blanketed the East Coast, paralyzing the region. The EPA was, however, unshakable in its determination to allow citizen input on this day alone. Terri and Paul drove all night from Chester, West Virginia, to the...

  10. Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?
    (pp. 197-212)

    Under the productive regimes and power networks of the twentieth century’s chemical industrial economy, huge amounts and varieties of goods have been generated for consumption, but the external costs have been massive and yet to be fully counted. Industrial systems have been richly productive, while also being dirty, exploitative, and inefficient. In time, as the ecological accounting books move toward balance, the wasteful and destructive tendencies of industrial production may undermine the material and cultural foundations that make its productivity possible in the first place. Hazardous waste is only one example of the environmental and efficiency failures of the industrial...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 213-216)
  12. Appendix: WTI Ownership Patterns
    (pp. 217-228)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 229-268)
  14. Index
    (pp. 269-280)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-281)