Submitted by Jeff Buster@rea... on Sat, 01/14/2006 - 23:40.


When I have been on the rim of the Cuyahoga Valley at E30th and Broadway (between the prison and the post office) for the last year with the prevailing SW winds there is a usually a strong sickly obnoxious sweet smell - not the steel mills smell but rather the same smell described by James Renner in the Free Times article here:


How is it that the agencies involved in the regulation of  GEM – a toxic disposal business -  have  allowed such an acute and obnoxious odor – read “chemical release”  to continue to waft into  neighborhoods for a year?  What are GEM’s discharges into the sewers?  What are the chemicals?  What are their effects on health?  Regulation sounds really loosey goosey.  This article raises the specter of heavy metal laden hazmat wastes being conveniently incinerated in steel mill furnaces.   Could this be the case, or do our Ohio regulators have the situation under control?.  What is your bet?

( categories: )

Here I've been blaming ISG/Mittal

Thanks for pointing this out, Jeff - good article... Cleveland seems more toxic than ever, but so does the rest of America. Are we getting better or worse?

It seems there are many layers of local, state and national regulators in charge of different aspects of this, each isolated enough from each other to make certain nobody has the complete picture, and all the files are incomplete - and then a tank blows up and nobody can be blamed - health problems surface and the source can't be found. Not under control by a long shot.

My bet Jeff is that the

My bet Jeff is that the regulators do not have the situation under control.. if by control you mean that GEM is complying with laws and not a threat to human health and the environment.  I cant count how many times I have dialed the 1 800 tip line for the OEPA with genuine environmental violations before my eyes, then submitted photos via email, and not had any followup period.  There are very very few people watching out.. enforcment should be privatized with cash incentives... then I could have my own show and it would be WAY cooler than DAWG The Bounty Hunter.

what a great idea -- start that show!

Even if you can't make money from catching the bad guys, you can make money if you develop a watchable cable tv show.

I know that Eric Brewer is looking for pointed educational material to put on the East Cleveland cable tv network... could you develop a pilot by working with a group of students at one of the local universities through a class, and then pitch it to a cable tv channel to ramp it up for production?


One way to embarrass regulators into performance it to do what Ed Hauser has done with the I90 bridge.  Set up a site (you can do it in REALNEO) which just focuses on one issue - say the GEM facility.  Then blog, and invite citizen and agency input, onto the site.  You won't get agency input unless you serve FOI requests on them, but just follow the template on NEOBRIDGE for that. http://neobridge.net/

Since the Plain Dealer doesn't have any corporate interest - as part of the Newhouse "Advance Publicaations" chain -  to advance the civic situation here, it has to be done grass roots up.  That can be challenging and rewarding however.  

We could start by posting photos of the outside of the GEM facility.  Who can do that? 

UPDATE - GEM of a Haz Waste Explosion!

Firefighters battle huge industrial fire

Cleveland firefighters battled a huge fire Thursday in a industrial complex on Transport Road. An explosion sparked the blaze shortly after 12 p.m.

Workers at General Environmental Management, a Flats business that treats liquid industrial and hazardous wastes, were using a large crane to move a tank when the explosion occurred, fire officials said.

A worker was using a torch nearby but an exact cause of the explosion has not been determined.

Emergency workers took five people to MetroHealth Medical Center, officials said.

Three of the victims were admitted to the intensive burn unit at Metro with burns on several parts of their bodies. Two of the victims were treated in Metro's outpatient burn unit.

Hospital officials would not saw how badly the victims were burned or release their names. But all of the victims were stable, alert and awake.

General Environmental Management is located two miles south of downtown on a six-acre site, that was once part of Standard Oil No. 1 Refinery.

After the explosion, which shook windows of homes in Tremont, a plume of smoke was visible miles away from the fire. Firefighters worried the fire might reach liquid oxygen tanks at the facility.

It took firefighters several hours to put out the initial fire and several small fires that broke out at the facility, including one in the company's chemistry lab.

Hazardous materials teams were called to the scene.

Cleveland officials have received numerous complaints about General Environmental Management, most involved odors emitted from the facility.

"They've been involved in numerous hazardous materials and air quality issues," Assistant Fire Chief Tim O'Toole said.

The Cleveland Division of Air Quality cited the company for nuisance odors, according to records in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.


  • Photo gallery gallery
  • Watch video from the scene from WKYC
  • Background: Capturing Flats' bad air in a bucket
  • General Environmental Mgmt. LLC web site
  • Map of area

    Print | Send To A Friend | Permalink (Learn More)

  • This News section may contain portions of copyrighted material. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, such attributed material is available without profit to people expressing an interest in this information for research