Ohio Briefs 3-24-14: Akron company will convert plastics for fuel

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AKRON -- A company is spending $20 million establishing a plant in northeast Ohio to convert scrap plastic into fuel.

Sixty tons of plastic a day will go into the plant in Akron to create 300 barrels of petrochemical products used to make diesel fuel and lubricants. That's three tractor-trailer truck loads that would otherwise end up buried in the earth.

Vadxx Energy founder and petroleum geologist Bill Ullom says the project could be the start of a U.S. or even global expansion for the Akron-headquartered company, the Akron Beacon Journal (http://bit.ly/1gWegPz) reported.

"In Ohio alone, we are burying enough plastics to support five to 10 of these plants," noted Russell Cooper, vice president of business development for the company.

Akron welcomed the plant to an east side neighborhood after residents in Cleveland objected to the project.

The city, eyeing potential job growth, did not charge Vadxx for the 5-acre parcel. In exchange, Akron gets a 1 percent stake in the plant's profits.

Brent Hendren, of Akron's economic development office, said the plant will be built on vacant, underutilized land.

"It's a good opportunity to help Vadxx make their first major production plant," Hendren said.

EPA officials say the plant would be a minor pollution emitter.

"We're melting the plastic, capturing fumes and condensing it into a liquid," Cooper said, adding that the process inside a closed unit captures most of the pollution.

About 17 to 18 operators would be needed to run the equipment 24 hours a day.

A groundbreaking for the plant is being planned for April, and the facility should be completed by the end of the year, company officials said.

Hit by train: Ohio police say a driver was injured when his vehicle went through a railroad crossing arm and hit an Amtrak train traveling in northern Ohio.

Sgt. Ron Bornino of the State Highway Patrol says 58-year-old Murphy West Jr., of Ashtabula, was taken to a hospital in Geneva and transferred to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland after the Sunday crash. A nursing supervisor at the hospital said West was in fair condition Sunday. Trooper Damion Assink said the car was heading north on Ohio 45 near Saybrook Township about 3 a.m. when it went through the crossing arm as the train was heading west. The township is near Ashtabula, which is about 55 miles east of Cleveland. The patrol is continuing to investigate the crash.

Bail set in murder: A judge has set bail at $500,000 for each of two men arrested on a charge of murder in a shooting that left a 14-year-old boy dead and three people injured.

A Hamilton County Municipal Court judge set the bail Saturday for 20-year-old Miniko Hicks and 18-year-old Donyell Walker. Cincinnati police say the two were charged with murder in the slaying of Jashawn Martin. Police say Martin died from injuries received in the shooting Friday in a neighborhood north of downtown.

Winterkills: State officials say Ohioans may see some dead fish along Ohio's ponds and small lakes as ice and snow from this past winter melt. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says winterkills occur when persistent ice forms a surface barrier between the water and air that prevents circulation of oxygen and blocks sunlight. Depleted oxygen can result in fish suffocating, and plants cut off from sunlight stop making more oxygen. Winterkills are most common in shallow ponds, with the dead fish typically found along the shore. Ohio's northern counties are usually affected the most because of colder temperatures and more frequent snows, but the kills are possible throughout the state this year.

Internships: About 2,500 college students will get paid internships and co-ops at Ohio businesses through a program funded by $11 million from state casino license fees. The Ohio Board of Regents says the funding is going to 10 community colleges and 15 universities over the next two years. They will partner with 30 other post-secondary institutions, including 11 Ohio technical centers. The schools are required to match at least 100 percent of the money awarded with private funds.

Campuses will use it to create new or expand existing co-op and internship programs.

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