Speak out on planned SOBE energy plant
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Speak out on planned SOBE energy plant

Jul 13, 2023

Aug 20, 2023


SOBE Energy Solutions wants to build a tire pyrolysis plant where they are demolishing the old Youngstown Thermal Plant at 205 North Ave.

SOBE applied to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio as a utility to provide steam heat and cooling to downtown Youngstown buildings. There is nothing in its PUCO application stating the facility’s intended plan: to pyrolyze tires to produce synthetic gas and carbon black to sell for profit.

SOBE Concerned Citizens examined the application and believe SOBE misrepresented its business plan to PUCO. We advised PUCO that SOBE’s application should be rescinded and should be refiled with the true intended purpose. Youngstown zoning authorities “grandfathered” SOBE as a steam heating and cooling plant, located in a mixed-use community zone.

No permission was granted for pyrolyzing of tires. Currently, SOBE is burning natural gas to fire a boiler to provide steam heating and cooling for downtown businesses. SOBE requested permission from Ohio EPA to burn synthetic gas to pyrolyze tires to make more synthetic fuel for sale to plastic manufacturers.

July 6, Ohio EPA issued a draft air pollution permit to SOBE detailing amounts of emissions, so the public can submit concerns. “Thermolyzing” tires next to our revitalized downtown would create cancer-causing air emissions in the heart of downtown Youngstown, and is too dangerous to place in the middle of a densely populated area, since similar types of operations have exploded and burned. (Chemical Engineering Transactions, Vol. 99, 2023: Inherent Hazards and Limited Regulatory Oversight in the Waste Plastic Recycling Sector – Repeat Explosion at Pyrolysis Plant by Frank Huess Hedlund.)

That research paper deals with a plant in Denmark; in the U.S. , the 2021 Ashley, Indiana and 2023 Richmond, Indiana, plant explosions and fires show the technology has not been proven safe.

SOBE’s proposed plastics and tire recycling project would produce pollution harmful to public health. The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, a worldwide alliance of 800 grassroots groups from over 90 countries, has published lists of carcinogenic toxins that pyrolysis releases into the air, including: dioxins and furans (endocrine disruptors); mercury, cadmium, lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons like benzene (all cancer causing); plus, heart- and lung-damaging volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. Youngstown residents’ health and livelihoods should not be sacrificed for this toxic plant.

The public comment period is ongoing, and mailed submissions must be postmarked by Aug. 24, addressed to: Ohio EPA DAPC, Northeast District Office, 2110 East Aurora Road, Twinsburg, Ohio 44087.

SOBE Concerned Citizens held a public comment meeting, with the draft permit for review, on Aug. 17. You can submit your concerns online at: www.stop

sobe.com, then click “to submit your concern to OH EPA.”

Please make your voices heard, Youngstown citizens!



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