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Published: Friday, 12/10/2004

Paint plant to clean up Erie County property

BY STEVE MURPHY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

State environmental officials have approved a plan by the operator of an Erie County paint factory to clean up toxic chemicals that contaminated a 16.5-acre site around the plant in the 1960s and 1970s.

ICI Paints, which owns the Glidden factory on Sprowl Road south of Huron, Ohio, is expected to spend about $3 million to remove or treat soil and water tainted with solvents such as trichloroethylene, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, said Dina Pierce, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Most of those substances are flammable and can cause dizziness, throat and eye irritation, and even death if ingested in large enough quantities. Trichloroethylene and benzene are known to cause cancer. "These are the very common industrial chemicals we find in these circumstances," Ms. Pierce said.

The EPA spokesman said the cleanup is scheduled to take about three years. The company will submit monthly progress reports to EPA, and agency monitors will visit the site periodically to take samples and ensure compliance with the cleanup plan.

"Our role there now is to be an overseer, to make sure it's being done and being done properly," she said.

The cleanup plan calls for tainted soil, including dirt underneath a tank farm on the site, to be excavated and stored in a hazardous waste landfill. Underground storage tanks are to be removed, and contractors are to regrade the site to control surface water runoff.

Trenches will be built to collect groundwater, which will be treated before it is discharged. Glidden Co. opened the plant in 1964. Company officials discovered possible groundwater contamination in 1979, when solvents were detected in discharge from an underground drain.

ICI Paints acquired Glidden in 1986 and operates the plant, which produces latex and solvent-based paints and employs about 200 people, company spokesman Matt Barkett said.

The cleanup plan is aimed at "resolving some historical issues that go back literally decades," Mr. Barkett said. "We've been working proactively with the EPA for several years now. This agreement just formalizes our relationship with the EPA, and we look forward to getting this situation resolved as soon as possible and moving forward with it."

Ms. Pierce said company officials "did what they could" to clean up the site when they found the contamination 25 years ago, but a lack of regulations governing hazardous waste sites slowed progress.

"Once they discovered a problem, they worked to try to clean it up," she said. "There weren't that many, if any, regulations in the '60s and early '70s, and at the same time technology has improved, so there's methods they can use to better contain their hazardous waste, as well as treat it properly and dispose of it properly."

Contact Steve Murphy at:

smurphy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6078.



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