By JEANNE STARMAcK
and Burton Speakman
An Indiana plant that closed because of air- quality issues is seeking a Mahoning Valley location, and a former Campbell mayor is providing assistance.
George Krinos, who owns the Krinos Group in Boardman, said in a prepared statement his firm will fund a Nature’s Fuel site and the equipment needed for a “waste-to-renewable-fuel” facility.
The company can use any type of waste with the exception of hazardous waste in its process. It could be wood, manure, municipal trash or industrial waste.
Krinos was Campbell’s mayor from December 2009 until he resigned Jan. 4, 2011, a little more than a month into the second year of his two-year term. The Krinos Group is an umbrella for the Krinos Financial Group, Krinos Investment Group, Krinos Insurance Group and Krinos Venture Capital, its website says.
In the statement, Krinos says that total funding by Krinos Group for the Nature’s Fuel site will be “in excess of $512,000,000.” In a phone interview Friday, he would not elaborate on where that money will come from.
The statement indicates he will be announcing other funding for a site “in another state in the near future.” A proposed site in Michigan and the company’s only up-and-running site, in Huntington, Ind., also received funding, the statement says.
Krinos told The Vindicator he wants to bring the plant to Campbell.
“My job was to bring business into the city, in or out of office,” he said. “I will accomplish that goal,” he said, adding that “three or four more businesses are coming” that will provide 4,000 area jobs.
The Nature’s Fuel site, the statement says, will employ 232 people. The project should create more than 1,415 direct, indirect, permanent and temporary jobs, it says.
Nature’s Fuel lost its air-quality permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and closed its Attwood, Ind., location, said Robert Elstro, public information officer for the IDEM.
The company still has an active air-quality permit for its site in Huntington, Ind.
In 2010, IDEM issued an agreed order with Nature’s Fuel to close the Atwood site by Jan. 31, 2011. The company was cited for violations including air pollution, oil spilled onto the ground and solid waste was not disposed of properly, according to IDEM records. The violations occurred during 2009.
Glenn Johnson, president of Nature’s Fuel, acknowledged his company made some mistakes at their first operation in Indiana.
“We spent a lot of money to fix those mistakes,” he said.
The Atwood plant generated a lot of complaints from neighbors, and it was eventually closed by agreement with the IDEM to stop those complaints, not because the company had committed several environmental offenses, Johnson said.
There were only two confirmed violations, and the company paid a little more than $4,000 in fines, he said.
“The good thing about the Atwood plant is the process was proven to be successful,” Johnson said. “We spent $25 million to make sure there’s not a problem with emissions.”
It unclear what kind of waste Nature’s Fuel would use at a Mahoning Valley location, he said. “We’ve got a lot of people looking around for a viable site,” Johnson said.
Campbell Mayor Bill VanSuch said Friday he is not aware of any discussions about bringing the company into the city.
“When he was mayor, he said he was going to bring garbage in, burn it and make electricity out of it,” VanSuch said, adding that city council didn’t pay much attention to the idea.
Krinos and council had an acrimonious relationship, including infighting over Krinos’ attempts to fire the city’s financial director and appoint a new one. That issue ended up in court, with council and finance director Sherman Miles filing suit to get Miles reinstated after Krinos suspended him in April 2010.
Krinos also upset council members by rehiring a laid-off firefighter though council had not budgeted money to pay him.
He resigned as mayor two days after a report of an attempted suicide at his Matawan Drive home. A caller told police “a man had eaten an entire bottle of Xanax.” Krinos said he went to the hospital because of an allergic reaction.
He also was charged with OVI in Columbiana County while in office, and was convicted of that charge in 2011.
He is facing another OVI charge in Beaver Township. He was arrested there in June.
VanSuch said Krinos’ involvement with Nature’s Fuel would not prevent him from talking to the company.
“I don’t care who’s involved,” he said. “I am interested in getting jobs, and my door’s open.”
He also said that he would be concerned about the company’s past problems in Indiana, and he would want to “check them out to the fullest.”
Nature’s Fuel is looking at 11 other sites, including the CASTLO Industrial Park in Struthers.
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker, who is also a CASTLO trustee, said he talked this week with a company representative who wanted to know if the city’s sewage treatment plant has the capacity to treat wastewater from the company’s operations.
Stocker said odors would be one concern, with 75 homes in the general proximity of CASTLO. More could be affected, depending on which way the wind blows, he said. In Atwood, Ind., residents complained of a natural-gas-like smell, according to website WNDU.com.
Stocker pointed out the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency would have to issue permits to the company.
He said CASTLO trustees decided at their meeting Thursday they’d be willing to listen to company representatives.
“We’re interested in jobs,” Stocker said, adding that he agrees city residents’ quality of life is also important.
Bob Carcelli, who is helping the company find a site either in Northeast Ohio or western Pennsylvania, would not say where other possible sites are. Krinos also would not say.