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EPA gets input on Envirosafe cleanup

Oregon residents embittered by years of delay insisted last night that contaminated dirt at a land farm facility Envirosafe Services of Ohio operated at Cedar Point and Wynn roads be dug up to a depth of four feet and hauled away.

Dan Steingraber of Grand Bay Drive said at a hearing at the Oregon Municipal Building that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency should “take any cleanup out of [Envirosafe's] hands because how do we know they will do it responsibly.”

He called Envirosafe “a morally and ethically bankrupt company” that has lost credibility in Oregon because the waste disposal firm over 16 years has repeatedly revised cleanup plans that need the agency's approval rather than undertake appropriate remedies at the closed 28-acre site.

The Lake Erie Waterfowlers, a nonprofit conservation group, opposes anything short of removal of the contaminated soils to another landfill, James Manning, a spokesman for the group, said. “Leaving the waste in place will certainly result in some of the waste finding its way to the Maumee Bay,” he said.

The hearing was held by the Ohio EPA, which claims it is nearing a decision on a revised closure plan recently submitted by Envirosafe. Of the closure plans that have been submitted over the years, this is the first in which public comment was sought by the agency. “We look at holding the hearing as a valuable tool to us,” Heather Lauer, a spokeswoman for the state agency, said afterward. “We have been looking at this for a long time. This hearing may be helpful.”

The firm's closure plan suggests putting a so-called “vegetation cap” consisting of trees and grass over the site, agency officials said. Ohio EPA staff members have reviewed the Envirosafe proposal, but they haven't formed an opinion about it, Ms. Lauer said.

Ohio EPA Director Christopher Jones will rule on the matter, which can be appealed by the company or residents to an appeal board and through the courts. Written comments on the plan will be accepted through June 8. Envirosafe officials were out of town and unavailable for comment.

Several people said they believe water from the facility is running off into ditches and leaching into the soil. Joann Schiavone, a Walbridge councilwoman, said water from what she called melting “black snow” discolored by refinery waste chemicals disposed at the site ran off onto an adjoining farm in 1985, when the land farm stopped accepting chemical waste.

Of the 4 million gallons of hazardous wastes accepted at the site from 1978 to 1985, more than 600,000 gallons were hazardous oils - “compounds left over from making gasoline and diesel fuel that don't degrade very well,” said Dr. Alison Sponberg, assistant professor of geology at the University of Toledo, who was hired by the city to assess the site.

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