EPA update locals on Tremont City Barrel Fill cleanup, reaches chemical transportation deal

Commissioner: ‘It’s critical that we get this cleanup up to protect the water supply for a pretty large area of southwest Ohio ... '

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement on the transport of chemicals from the Tremont City Barrel Fill with the village, representatives told Springfield city government in an update on cleanup progress this week.

The barrel fill, located near an aquifer that provides drinking water to tens of thousands of area residents, contains millions of gallons of potentially toxic waste. The EPA began the pre-design or planning process last summer, locating barrels and evaluating soil samples, finding no waste has migrated off the site and contaminated groundwater.

Last year, Tremont City banned commercial trucks carrying more than five tons, with it attributed to safety concerns with a high volume of crashes involving commercial trucks and said was unrelated to the barrel fill.

The EPA has since had discussions with the village and come to the agreement that trucks carting off waste will have spill support equipment, and likely working with first responders to be prepared in the case of an emergency, Bob Rule, representative for the potentially responsible parties, told city commissioners.

The 8.5-acre Tremont City Barrel Fill site in German Twp. — at 3108 Snyder Domer Road — is a closed industrial waste landfill. During operations from 1976 to 1979, it’s estimated about 51,500 drums and 300,000 gallons of industrial liquid waste were disposed of at the site, which threatens the aquifer.

The site contains an estimated 1.5 million gallons of hazardous waste buried in the ground.

Residents have fought for decades to clean up the site.

The disposal stopped in 1980, and soil was later placed on top of the waste cells. Seventeen years later, the U.S. EPA began an investigation into the barrel fill and found some leaks from waste cells. An investigation by the potentially responsible parties in 2005 found most of the waste cells were intact, but showed high levels of contaminants at the barrel fill site.

Contaminants include elevated levels of volatile organic compounds, such as xylenes, ethylbenzene, toluene and methylene chloride. Metals such as chromium and arsenic were also detected in the liquid and solid waste.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

In October 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio approved a cleanup plan after it granted the motion to approve a consent decree signed in April 2022 by all parties to begin the process of cleaning up the landfill.

In the court order, all responsible companies said they acknowledged they have waste in the landfill and are responsible for the chemicals. They entered into the federal agreement — a Superfund Alternative Approach Agreement — and signed the decree that they will clean it up and shoulder some of the financial burden to do so.

The planned solution: building a new, double-lined cell that is the most protective the EPA can offer and reburying some of the waste while monitoring it forever and shipping some waste off site for proper disposal.

Remedial project manager Jenny Polster told city commissioners the EPA has studied the type of soil and bedrock to ensure the solution is feasible.

The EPA received a remedial design work plan it is now reviewing, Polster said. Engineering plans will likely be finalized by May 2025 due to their complex nature.

Polster said the EPA has seen active support from the community and local government.

Deputy Springfield Mayor and commissioner David Estrop said during the city meeting that the most important thing to keep in mind is that the site is close to an aquifer.

“It’s critical that we get this cleanup up to protect the water supply for a pretty large area of southwest Ohio, including this city, because if you don’t have good water — safe water — you’re in serious trouble and probably won’t be around,” Estrop said.

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