County OKs Biomass resolution, wants EPA to think about bond

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

As expected, the Lawrence County Commission yesterday approved a resolution asking that all deliveries at the Biomass Energy facility at The Point Industrial Park in South Point be halted until the plant gets all the necessary permits to handle its materials and until applicable waste disposal mechanisms are in place.

The commission also agreed to send a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, asking the agency to establish a bond, a cleanup security deposit, for the plant, so that taxpayers are never stuck with the cost of clean up if Biomass pulls out and leaves a mess.

"I don't want to stymie growth in our county," Commission President George Patterson said. "But they should have to put up a bond so that if they dump stuff out there and then leave, the taxpayers won't have to clean it all up."

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The new moves got the support of South Point Mayor Bill Gaskin, who has attended county commission meetings lately to discuss the recent Biomass developments.

Earlier this month, local officials raised concern that Biomass had arranged for shipments of 121,000 tons of unwanted tobacco. Company officials had planned to burn the tobacco at the facility, but EPA officials say the facility does not have a permit to burn tobacco, only wood waste.

The Ironton Tribune attempted to contact Biomass Energy CEO Mark Harris for his comments on the matter. He was not available for comment by press time.

In other matters, the commission agreed to explore the possibility of giving an entity other than South East Ohio Emergency Medical Services its ambulance service or perhaps take over the management of the service itself.

The county owns all of the EMS stations and equipment in the county, and has had a contract with SEOEMS for the last several years to manage and operate this service. The EMS contract is put up for bid every year.

A new 1-year, $1,338,641 contract with SEOEMS was last approved in November of 2002 for the year 2003.

"I've had others come to me and ask to be able to bid on this," Patterson said. He asked EMA/911 Director Don Mootz to get information together about the county's options.

Commissioner Doug Malone expressed interest in the idea of the county taking over the management of the service. "If we can save money and bring jobs into the area by running it ourselves, I'd be willing to look at that very hard."