Springfield rejects contract with Waste Management over Tremont Barrel Fill site

Springfield city commissioners rejected a trash pick-up services contract with Waste Management as some elected officials said the company is delaying a proposed cleanup of the Tremont Barrel Fill site.

The company denied that was the case in an email to the News-Sun, stating that it is part of a group of companies working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to finalize documents in order to proceed with the cleanup.

Commissioners were asked to vote on an ordinance that would authorize the city entering into a three-year contract with Waste Management for an amount not to exceed $60,000 that could be renewed for two additional one-year periods.

That contract would allow the company to conduct trash pick-up services at city facilities. However, it was rejected by a 2-1 vote.

“I am very frustrated and I know many others are that this is the same company who primarily owns the Tremont Barrel Fill that contains a million gallons of toxic waste near our water source the aquifer that serves Springfield, Clark County and a good share of southwest Ohio,” said Commissioner David Estrop.

The barrel fill, at 3108 Snyder Domer Road, is an 8.5-acre section of a closed landfill that had been used for industrial waste barrels. It is located near an aquifer that provides drinking water for tens of thousands of area residents.

“I know every day that barrel fill goes unaddressed a potential disaster looms over our head,” Estrop said.

Mia Jankowiak, a communications manager at Waste Management, said that neither Waste Management nor Chemical Waste Management owns the barrel fill or the landfill its located in.

Chemical Waste Management is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc.

“The site is owned by Tremont Landfill Company and the cleanup project is being managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Chemical Waste Management, is a member of a group of area companies, actively working with the U.S. EPA to finalize the documents that will allow the companies to proceed with U.S. EPA’s selected remedy,” she said in an email.

“The companies, including Chemical Waste Management, have provided timely comments and feedback throughout the process,” she added.

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However, the process of getting toxic waste removed at the barrel fill site has been in a state of limbo since 2019 as a consent agreement needs to be signed by the parties that will be responsible for that work, including Chemical Waste Management.

Larry Ricketts, who is with People for Safe Water, spoke during the meeting on Tuesday saying “We have a chance here to make a real statement. We begged, we pleaded, we have done everything for so long with the U.S. EPA and with the Department of Justice. The third part of that triangle are the principal responsible parties. As you mentioned the largest one of those is Waste Management.”

People for Safe Water have been advocating for the removal of toxic waste from the Tremont Barrel Fill site for years.

Estrop said that local officials have talked to the U.S. EPA and a consent agreement has not been signed at this point.

Nate Smith, the communications coordinator for the Clark County Combined Health District, said that health commissioner Charles Patterson has been in talks with the U.S. EPA and the hope is that a resolution will be reached by the end of the year.

The rough plans for the clean up effort include removing drums from the site and shipping liquid waste discovered off-site to special locations for disposal.

The solids that remain will be dug up and reburied on site in a double-lined landfill. The site will then be capped and groundwater will be monitored to detect any leaks.

Three Springfield commissioners out of five were present at their public meeting on Tuesday. Mayor Warren Copeland and commissioner Rob Rue were not present.

The commissioners that were present, Estrop, Kevin O’Neill and Joyce Chilton did approve a contract with Rumpke Ohio to perform trash pick-up services instead of Waste Management.

However, that occurred after a motion to table the ordinance regarding Waste Management was voted down, 2-1, and the original contract with Waste Management was also voted down 2-1, with Estrop and O’Neill opposing and Chilton voting in for it.

“We don’t want to hold up the city’s services for waste over what the EPA needs to decide,” Chilton said.

The new contract with Rumpke will end up costing the city more money since Waste Management had presented a lower bid.

The original ordinance would have allowed for City Manager Bryan Heck to enter into a contract with Waste Management of Ohio, Inc. for trash pick-up at various city facilities for a period of three years, with an option to renew for two additional one-year periods, for an amount not to exceed $60,000.

The ordinance that was improved in its place had the same language, except the company was changed to Rumpke of Ohio, Inc., and the amount of the contract was changed to a number not to exceed $95,000.

Heck said that the staff had recommended Waste Management for trash pick-up services since it offered the lowest bid and had provided good service for the city in the past.

The city commissioners had approved a separate contract with Rumpke during the same meeting for an amount not to exceed $30,000 due to that company having trucks that can fit into the Police Division Public Safety Building as well as City Hall.

However, Waste Management had a lower bid regarding trash pick-up at the rest of the city’s facilities.

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But, commissioner O’Neill said that the city should not be giving Waste Management any money due to the Tremont Barrel Fill situation.

Estrop said “I think it is time for us to take a stand and make it clear. I would like to see us extend an invitation with Waste Management to come and meet with us.”

“But I think it is time we take a stand and say enough is enough. You have threatened our water supply for far to long and this problem should have been solved a long time ago,” he added.

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