EPA's cleanup plan for Tremont City barrel fill criticized

Local, state agencies and residents are concerned that the federal EPA’s proposal is inadequate.

This took place at a Wednesday evening meeting that the U.S. EPA convened for the purpose of accepting public comment on the plan. Nobody at the meeting voiced agreement with the plan.

The reasons for questioning — or outright rejecting — the proposal varied from nebulous cost projections to substandard geology analysis, and from waste storage design that doesn’t meet state standards to local officials not being informed of the meeting.

Tremont City Barrel Fill, a long-closed landfill for industrial waste in barrels, contains buried hazardous waste that EPA has identified as a risk to public health if left in its current state. Rainwater leaching through the buried barrels and containment pools could eventually contaminate groundwater in the area, EPA reports state.

The U.S. EPA is proposing to leave solid hazardous waste at the site in containers whose design integrity was questioned by at least two experts Wednesday evening. However, Peter Townsend, a retired geologist and expert on local aquifers, said that the site’s pollution would be diluted to harmless proportions by the time it reaches the sources of Springfield’s city water.

Townsend said he doesn’t believe that’s an excuse to do a substandard cleanup job. He said it’s still illegal to put hazardous waste on top of the type of aquifer U.S. EPA proposed.

Charles Patterson, Clark County health commissioner, requested an additional 30 days for the public to comment.

He told the EPA panel that most county and city officials were not informed about the meeting prior to Wednesday.

“Obviously we locally have concerns about something that needs to be maintained long-term,” Patterson said.

“I’ll be here in 30 years, and you folks from Chicago won’t be.”

Ohio EPA’s statement found fault with the proposal.

“If someone came to us and said they wanted to put a new landfill at the site, with this design, we couldn’t approve it,” said Heather Lauer, an Ohio EPA spokeswoman.

EPA officials attending the meeting said all comments would be responded to in a written format, viewable in various venues including on the agency website, www.epa.gov.

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