Group urging calls to congressmen for barrel fill help

The advocacy group also is asking its members and residents to call U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and representative John Boehner about the clean-up plan this week. Safe Water conducted a calling campaign last week and is still encouraging residents to continue to contact their lawmakers in coming weeks.

Duncan asked citizens and fellow commissioners to call federal representatives to “clean up the barrel fill and clean it up right.”

The barrel fill is an 8.5-acre section of a closed landfill for industrial waste barrels that contains an estimated 1.5 million gallons of hazardous waste buried in the ground. Local officials and activist groups believe hazardous waste is leaking from the site, which could affect drinking water for 82,000 customers around Clark County. It’s currently listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund Alternative site.

If left in its current state, the site could be a risk to public health decades from now, officials said.

“This is probably the most important issue for the long-term well-being of our community,” Duncan said. “If we don’t have clean water in 50 years, the work that we’re doing today isn’t going to matter at all because nobody will be here.”

The U.S. EPA was expected to move forward with a $56 million plan, Alternative 4a, to remove all hazardous waste from the barrel fill. However, in 2011, the U.S. EPA issued its final decision, the $28 million Alternative 9a, which called for barrels containing industrial waste to be dug up and then reburied on-site in a lined landfill.

Officials and local citizens have been working to have the clean-up plan reverted back to Alternative 4a ever since.

Last month, Boehner said the EPA is “trying to Bigfoot everybody” regarding the site and needs to work more closely with local officials. The U.S. EPA is in the process of hiring a third-party facilitator with the goal of improving communications at the site.

Citizens can find information on how to reach congressmen and talking points at both peopleforsafewater.org and the city’s website, ci.springfield.oh.us, as well as the Clark County Public Library, Duncan said.

“We’re trying to push the issue up on the radar for our federal representatives,” Duncan said. “In talking to staff people, a lot of the things that get attention are the squeaky wheels. We need to squeak really, really loudly on this issue. This is an issue that is just so critical to the well-being of all of us.”

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