Springfield backs $24M hazardous dump cleanup near water source

The city of Springfield will back a $24 million, reduced clean-up plan at the Tremont City Barrel Fill, but one city commissioner says he won’t stop fighting for what he called full protection for the local drinking water.

Springfield city commissioners unanimously passed a resolution backing the cleanup Wednesday, becoming the second local government to agree to the plan at the closed dump that has 1.5 million gallons of hazardous industrial waste stored in buried barrels. Clark County commissioners passed a similar resolution last month.

RELATED: Springfield leaders to vote on $24M hazardous waste dump clean-up plan

“It’s a yes, but it’s a reluctant yes,” Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said.

Local leaders and activists were told earlier this year to accept the modified cleanup of the hazardous waste dump they’ve long feared could seep into Springfield’s drinking water supply or risk nothing happening for years.

“Nothing can be done if you don’t start the process,” Springfield City Commissioner Joyce Chilton said.

The community has fought for decades to get a thorough cleanup. The barrels were buried at the 8.5-acre section of the closed landfill between 1976 and 1978.

READ MORE: Tremont City barrel fill: What’s really going on?

Community members and local leaders have pushed 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 ones 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 chemicals.

In recent months, Springfield City Commissioner Kevin O’Neill has told commissioners he believes the community should continue to fight for the more extensive remediation. He voted for the resolution because it will get the process started but said the new plan falls short of what the community expects.

“I’m hanging my hat that this is going to be fixed properly,” he said. “I’m not going to quit trying to avail the process of removing it all once the process starts.”

MORE: Springfield leader wants lifetime warranty on hazardous waste

He hopes to raise money to remove all of the hazardous waste, which has been estimated to cost another $13 million to $15 million. The price tag will be insignificant if the city’s well fields became contaminated, O’Neill has said.

“The community deserves the right to say yea or nay to that,” he said.

By not doing something, City Commissioner Dan Martin said Springfield runs the risk of getting a worse plan many years from now.

“(The process) would start from scratch,” he said.

It also makes sense for the city and other partners to hire an independent engineer to consult with the local governments during the cleanup, Martin said. If there are any corners being cut at the expense of public safety, he said an independent consultant could inform local leaders.

MORE: Clark County must decide soon on reduced cleanup for hazardous waste dump

“We owe that to the community if we are going this route,” Martin said. “We need to make sure we have our own expert who can work with us and give us advice.”

The proclamations of support are the first step in getting the remediation started, Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said.

“We have many more steps to go,” he said. “We can’t do anything further until we get the ball rolling.”

People for Safe Water member Larry Ricketts wants the city to pass a separate resolution urging the barrel fill be placed on the National Priorities List, which would allow it to become a Superfund site. Gov. John Kasich must approve a community’s request before the listing is approved.

The city will likely hear legislation regarding the priority list at their next meeting, Copeland said. The U.S. EPA has assembled a task force to examine and possibly make changes to the Superfund program, which could be cut up to 25 percent as part of the upcoming federal budget.

“It behooves us to get on the National Priorities List so that we have that as a backup,” Ricketts said.


Special report: Healthy Springfield

Drug, overdose epidemic never-ending battle for Springfield police

Drug crisis traumatizing children in Clark County, state

Overdose epidemic spreads, strains Springfield first responders

Woman allegedly skips out on $5,000 bill at Springfield wedding venue

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Politics

Springfield urges use of licensed contractors after complaints
Springfield urges use of licensed contractors after complaints

The city of Springfield urges residents to use reliable, licensed contractors after receiving complaints about unlicensed businesses advertising on social media. Within the past week, a number of posts on Facebook Marketplace were posted about furnaces and air conditioning sales and installation services in Springfield, said Shannon Meadows, the city&rsquo...
Marsy’s Law could be problematic for Clark County judicial system
Marsy’s Law could be problematic for Clark County judicial system

A new statewide law approved by voters last year providing more rights to victims of crimes may have an impact on the local court system, Clark County officials said. MORE: Ohio may crack down on prostitution to fight opioid crisis The new law, which came into effect on Feb. 5, gives victims or anyone harmed by a crime the right to receive notifications...
Envelope with white powder sent to Sen. Portman’s office
Envelope with white powder sent to Sen. Portman’s office

Hazmat crews are testing white powder that was on an envelope received at U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s office in Columbus on Friday, according to 10TV . RELATED: Vanessa Trump taken to hospital after white powder scare Crews were called to 37 West Broad Street in downtown Columbus just before 4.p.m. Friday. Battalion Chief Steve Martin said the...
Retired Centerville police chief focus of investigation
Retired Centerville police chief focus of investigation

Centerville police chief Bruce Robertson’s recent retirement came amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of criminal conduct, according to city officials. “There were allegations of criminal conduct, therefore we’re following up with conducting an internal investigation into those allegations,” City Manager Wayne Davis...
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation
Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

Rick Gates, a former aide in President Donald Trump's campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements and conspiring against the United States on Friday, making him the fifth person to enter a guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
More Stories