Eighteen years after the EPA detected a toxic chemical in the groundwater near a former Tecumseh elementary school in Clark County, the Environmental Protection Agency Tuesday announced plans to add the site to its list of cleanup priorities.
The Donnelsville contaminated aquifer is one of three sites the EPA proposed adding to its list of Superfund National Priorities List Tuesday. The EPA also announced it was officially adding six new sites to the priorities list.
The EPA first detected tetrachloroethylene - a chemical commonly used for dry cleaning — in the water supply in Donnelsville, just west of Springfield on U.S. 40 — in 1990. They closed the school wells after the chemical was detected, and in 2010, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency asked the federal EPA to assess the groundwater and presence of nearby wells that draw from the same aquifer after trichloroethylene, cis-1, 2-dichloroethene were also detected.
According to the EPA website, long-term exposure to tetrachloroethylene can cause neurological impairments as well as adverse effects in the kidney, liver and immune system, as well as have an impact on development and reproduction, and may be associated with several forms of cancer. Trichloroethylene has also been linked to several forms of cancer.
While the source of the contamination is unknown, in a fact sheet accompanying the release, the EPA said a manufacturer of truck, airplane, baby swings, car seats and high chair parts formerly on North Hampton Road in Donnelsville is a “possible source” of the contamination. The company has denied using the volatile organic compounds that the EPA had detected but in 2011 volunteered to pay for the installation of water treatment systems in the households affected by the contamination.
Cleanup is believed to be an economic boon to communities selected. According to the EPA, 487 of 888 Superfund sites cleaned up for reuse supported 6,600 businesses in 2017. And academic research has demonstrated that such cleanups reduce birth defects within about a mile of such sites by as much as 25 percent.
Should Donnelsville be officially added to the National Priorities List, it will be eligible to receive federal funding for long-term cleanup. Sites are added to the list when contamination threatens health and the environment.
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Donnelsville was one of three sites that are being proposed for addition to the National Priorities List. The EPA also proposed adding a site in Puerto Rico and one in Grand Prairie, Texas. In addition, they officially added six sites to the National Priorities List Tuesday: One in Delaware, one in South Carolina, one in Indiana, one in Minnesota and one in Dallas, Texas and one in San Antonio, Texas.