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County To City: Go Back To Drawing Board On Incinerator

Bill Rinehart

Two plans to deal with the Little Miami Incinerator have gone down the tubes. 

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency denied a request for more time to upgrade the facility, which doesn't meet clean air standards.  Now Hamilton County's leaders are rejecting a proposal to turn solid waste into fertilizer, saying it's not economical or environmentally friendly.

The aging incinerator must comply with EPA clean air standards or close by Mar. 21. Commission President Chris Monzel says the county and city will find a solution together.  “We are going to be working with the city on alternatives to the Little Miami Incinerator, as well as the trucking of the waste across, not only the city, but also the county. And we are going to work on an enterprise-wide solid waste plan that will be impactful for all of our communities along with the City of Cincinnati,” he says.

Monzel says the city and county must work together to find a temporary solution while also looking at the bigger picture.

Hamilton County owns, and sets the budget for, MSD. But under a 1968 agreement, the city operates the district.

County Administrator Christian Sigman says there will be another plea to the EPA for more time as the county, city, and MSD look at alternatives.

“I think the year extension will give us the time to work that as well as fill in the gaps of the actual proposal that’s been advanced.”

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says he believes the extension application would be more successful if there was an alternate plan.

“My position is that we should not truck human waste through Downtown. And they want to do a cost-benefit analysis that will keep open the option of trucking through Downtown.”

Cranley says trucking creates an environmental risk and doesn't make financial sense.  He says the solid waste should be handled at the Little Miami facility.

“I think there’s a legitimate debate about whether we should incinerate or do the digestion at Little Miami. But that to me is something that we could work out together. What I’m not open to is putting trucking back on the table, which they seemed to do today,” Cranley says.

That trucking route would likely go through Downtown Cincinnati from the Little Miami facility in the East End to the Mill Creek facility in Lower Price Hill.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.
Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.