Youngstown City Council unanimously turned down an application for a pyrolysis plant
The Youngstown, Ohio City Council rejected an proposal from SOBE Thermal Energy to develop a zero, or very low oxygen chemical process to turn shredded tyres into gas to be used for heating.
The Youngstown City Council rejected the plan on the basis of its proximity to “densly populated neighbourhoods, a hospital, jail, schools and churches.” They believed that the risks from the plant were high, and cited a fire at a Brightmark plastics pyrolysis plant in Indiana, and also objected to the pollutants, including particulates and toxic chemicals.
Earlier in the year, SOBE’s owner, David Ferro said that the project was misunderstood by some in the community, but he believed that it would bring a much-needed positive impact on a blighted area of Youngstown.
The resolution rejecting the proposal is actually unenforceable. However, the site for the proposed plant will require a re-zoning application and this rejection by the City Council signposts that any such change would not be looked upon favourably.
This Youngstown proposal has been subject to previous coverage by environmental journalists who have used research on plastics pyrolysis and plastics pyrolysis oil as a tool to argue against this and other projects.
The pyrolysis sector needs to get better at informing the public about its operations and the processes. Not being transparent in every point is always going to be used by those who would rather not see pyrolysis plants being developed. What is happening in Youngstown should be sending a message to the pyrolysis sector on how it handles public perception and engages with local stakeholders.