Local leaders and activists will have to accept a reduced cleanup of a hazardous waste dump they fear could seep into Springfield’s drinking water supply, a German Twp. trustee said, or risk nothing happening at the site.
More than 60 German Twp. residents attended a meeting with trustees and other local leaders Tuesday night that updated the community about recent developments at the Tremont City Barrel Fill, 3108 Snyder Domer Road.
The community has fought for decades to get a thorough cleanup at the closed Tremont City Barrel Fill site in northern Clark County that contains 1.5 million gallons of industrial waste barrels.
German Twp. Trustee Rod Kaffenbarger said he believes residents are ready to move forward with the U.S. EPA’s plan to remediate the site, even if it’s not the full cleanup they had hoped for.
“We don’t know if it can sit there another 10 to 20 years,” Kaffenbarger said.
The barrels were buried at the 8.5-acre section of a closed landfill between 1976 and 1978.
Community members and local leaders have long implored the U.S. EPA to remove all hazardous waste from the site. The U.S. EPA was expected to move forward with a $56 million plan to remove all hazardous waste from the site.
However in 2011 the federal agency decided to pursue a $28 million plan that calls for barrels containing liquids to be removed and one with solid waste to be dug up and then reburied on-site in a lined landfill.
Since then, a modified version of that cheaper plan was introduced and estimated to cost about $24 million. It also includes a double liner, leak detection system and possibly removing some of the barrels that include the worst of the worst chemicals.
The U.S. EPA has recently told local officials to accept the modified plan by the end of the year or get nothing, officials said.
“The residents are certainly willing to get something rather than nothing. They’re not interested in waiting another 10 or 20 years to get to a decision point,” Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. “They want it done now. They want the water supply protected now.”
The township, city and county will all have to decide as a group how they would like to proceed with accepting the proposal or sit back and wait for a better deal, Patterson said. The discussions are ongoing, but he said the government entities must provide a resolution to accept or reject the proposal in the next six weeks.
“The best chance for us to move forward would be for us to look at this deal and then see if there’s something we could put on top of this to enhance the remedy,” Patterson said.
No one is happy about moving forward with reduced cleanup, he said, but the community may have to compromise.
“It’s very difficult to compromise when so many of us have said, ‘Look, if you’re taking the hazardous materials out, don’t put them back in the ground or rebury them here,’” Patterson said. “That’s what we have to consider: Are we willing to compromise at this point?”
It’s sad that its taken 33 years to get a decision on the clean up, Kaffenbarger said. Many groups and individuals have fought for several years to get closure, Kaffenbarger said.
“We’re trying to be proactive instead of reactive,” he said.
Springfield City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill wants to see the waste completely removed from the barrel fill so that the community won’t have to worry about it in the future. It makes no sense to rebury the waste at the site, O’Neill said.
“My position hasn’t changed,” O’Neill said. “As long as there is a remedy out there that alleviates us from having that’s the process we need to have done … There are some things that don’t have a price tag and this is one of them.”
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By the Numbers
1.5 million: Gallons of hazardous waste stored in barrels buried underground at the Tremont City Barrel Fill, an 8.5-acre site in northern Clark County.
$56 million: Cost of clean-up plan Alternative 4a, which would remove all hazardous waste from the site.
$24 million: Cost of clean-up modified plan Alternative 9a, the U.S. EPA’s selected plan that includes digging up barrels, extracting the liquid waste and reburying the solid waste on site in a double-lined landfill.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively about the proposed cleanup plan for the Tremont City Barrel Fill since it was first introduced in 2011, including stories digging into the costs and why local activists want all the hazardous waste removed.