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City of Youngstown, Ohio, Adopts Moratorium on Pyrolysis and Gasification of Tires, Plastic, and Electronic Waste


NEWS RELEASE 

City of Youngstown, Ohio, Adopts Moratorium on Pyrolysis and Gasification of Tires, Plastic, and Electronic Waste 

Threats to Environmental Justice and Human Health Should Prevent Construction of SOBE Pyrolysis Facility 

For Immediate Release: January 3, 2024 

Contacts: 

● Jessica Conard, Beyond Plastics — jessicaconard@beyondplastics.org, (614) 905-7254 ● Melissa Valliant, Beyond Plastics — melissavalliant@beyondplastics.org, (410) 829-0726 


YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The city of Youngstown, Ohio, has adopted a one-year moratorium on pyrolysis or gasification or combustion of tires, chipped tires, plastics, and electronic waste in the city of Youngstown, Ohio. The city council voted unanimously on December 20, 2023; Mayor Jamael Tito Brown signed the bill on December 26, 2023; and it went into effect immediately on December 26, 2023. 

The new local law establishes a moratorium on the construction and operation of any facility that converts — or attempts to convert — plastics, tire derived chips, tire chips, and/or electronic waste into fuel or feedstock through various conversion processes, including pyrolysis or gasification, for one year. The local law declared an emergency measure for the immediate preservation of the public peace, welfare, and safety. 


“The moratorium on waste pyrolysis and gasification passed unanimously by the Youngstown City Council sends a strong message, echoing the concerns of Youngstown residents who are opposed to the proposed SOBE project. The safety and environmental risks of waste pyrolysis are particularly troubling, and the facility’s proposed location adjacent to our downtown and vulnerable neighborhoods is not in alignment with our city’s comprehensive plan,” said Tom Hetrick, president of Youngstown City Council. “The 12-month moratorium gives the council the necessary time to evaluate safety concerns, analyze zoning issues, gather additional public input, prioritize environmental justice, and fully exercise the City of Youngstown’s local control over land-use decisions within city limits in order to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our residents.” 


"I applaud Mayor Brown and all the members of the Youngstown City Council for adopting this law, which I hope will result in the SOBE company throwing in the towel. SOBE has proposed a polluting facility that does not belong in Youngstown or any other community. Robust community opposition has been key to preventing this false solution, and Beyond Plastics is committed to working with the community and other communities to ensure that this type of facility is never built,” said Jess Conard, Appalachia director for Beyond Plastics. “It’s critical that both residents and local officials here continue to stand firm against this proposal.” 


SOBE Energy Solutions’ Youngstown pyrolysis plant has proposed using shredded tires, plastic waste, and electronic waste to make fuel for heating or electricity. Pyrolysis is a process in which plastics are melted, vaporized, and turned into a synthetic fuel. The company has applied for an air quality permit to process shredded tires; however, the U.S. EPA wrote to the Ohio EPA in September 2023 encouraging an additional environmental justice review be completed. 


“This is a stopgap measure. The mayor needs to inform the CEO of this business that they cannot expand to an industrial operation in a mixed-use community zone,” said Lynn Anderson of SOBE Concerned Citizens


“The emergency ordinance passed by the Youngstown City Council on December 20, 2023, for a one-year moratorium is a significant step in restricting and discouraging any pyrolysis or gasification facility wanting to operate in our community,” said Susie Beiersdorfer, organizer for SOBE Concerned Citizens. “SOBE seems to think that the EPA has the final say, but residents disagree. We, the people of Youngstown, have the right to decide what facilities can operate here and we will continue to exercise that right.” 


There are serious concerns related to plastic pyrolysis facilities as identified in the recent report from Beyond Plastics and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), “Chemical Recycling: A Dangerous Deception: Why Chemical Recycling Won’t Solve the Plastic Pollution Problem.” To view the report, key findings, and other materials, please visit https://www.beyondplastics.org/publications/chemical-recycling 


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