Navistar says EPA wrong on pollution effects

EPA admits to mistake in interpreting data from water samples.


SPRINGFIELD — Navistar International disputed the Ohio EPA’s contention Tuesday that the truck-maker’s discharge of pollution into a waterway last year killed “everything in the stream,” and an EPA spokeswoman admitted an error.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had provided the information for a story that ran in Tuesday’s Springfield News-Sun.

“I acknowledge that I made a mistake in the interpretation,” said Heather Lauer, Ohio EPA spokeswoman. “When it was explained to me that the discharge was acutely toxic, and that it had killed everything ... that was a reference to the things in the lab that were used as test subjects.”

Ohio EPA uses organisms that resemble fleas to test wastewater, including that from Navistar’s annual clean-out of its painting system.

Last July, Ohio EPA found phosphorous levels at 489 milligrams per liter of liquid. Most municipal wastewater treatment is limited to 1 milligram per liter, Lauer said.

“Not to minimize anything,” said Karen Denning, a Navistar spokeswoman, “but we want to help people understand that these organisms are used to test things before something really bad happens.”

Lauer said Navistar is working with Ohio EPA to ensure the environment is protected.

“When they realized that it was affecting their wastewater treatment systems, ... they shut off the discharge,” Lauer said. “They went into treatment mode. And they told us about it.”

As a result, however, Ohio EPA has proposed limiting the phosphorous Navistar discharges into area waterways — an element that, in various forms, can harm aquatic habitats. The limit is 2.5 milligrams per liter, above the standard 1 milligram per liter.

“We are working with Ohio EPA because we want to do the right thing,” Denning said. But, “at some point you have to clean the tanks.”

Ohio EPA also characterized the company’s effluent as being discharged into Moore Run, a tributary to Mad River. In fact, discharges are made into a ditch that flows into Moore Run, Denning said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0353 or at bsmith@coxohio.com.


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