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Published: Saturday, 5/6/2006

Ohio EPA orders new tests on landfill

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The chief of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's hazardous waste unit has ordered a new round of sampling for the oldest part of Envirosafe Services of Ohio Inc.'s landfill in Oregon.

Michael Savage is skeptical about results that an East Toledo lab generated for the company in 2002.

In a recent letter to Doug Roberts, Envirosafe's president, Mr. Savage did not identify the lab by name, but said "documentation and validity questions" were raised because U.S. EPA testing protocol was not followed.

Mr. Roberts said the work was done by BEC Labs Inc., 705 Front St., and has been reassigned to Severn Trent Laboratories, which has testing laboratories in the United States and the United Kingdom.

"Quite frankly, BEC just wasn't prepared to do [the level of federal EPA testing] in some cases," Mr. Roberts said. He said Envirosafe was led to believe the lab was capable of doing the work when the company retained it.

BEC has since reorganized for financial reasons, closing the unit that did the work for Envirosafe and focusing on microbiology projects for the medical industry.

"The work occurred four years ago," Grant Wilkinson said, explaining that it pre-dates March 21, 2005, when he was appointed as BEC's receiver by Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge James Bates.

"While I can't speak to the past, I can tell you BEC does quality work today and has had no issues with our customers."

BEC's work was supposed to be the backbone of a major research project required of Envirosafe by the U.S. EPA. The goal of the document being produced, called a corrective action plan, is to ascertain whether dumps operated by the former Fondessy Enterprises Inc. are leaking contaminants into groundwater that flows into western Lake Erie.

The first phase, which cost Envirosafe $1 million, was done largely with BEC's help. The second phase, to cost $500,000, is about to begin, Mr. Roberts said.

Under the best-case scenario, the full report - including an assessment of any health risks - would be submitted by the summer of 2007, said Lynn Ackerson, Ohio EPA project coordinator.

She said BEC strayed from protocol with tests for polychlorinated biphenyls, known as PCBs, and various forms of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Both are hazardous industrial pollutants.

The dumps in question are on the north side of Envirosafe's property, built long before the era of modern solid waste laws. The Fondessy pits were dug starting in 1954 and closed off when Envirosafe bought the site in 1983.

Cell M, the massive pit that Envirosafe developed into the state's only commercially licensed hazardous waste dump, is not connected, Ms. Ackerson said.

Mr. Roberts called Envirosafe "one of the most studied pieces of real estate in the state of Ohio," with 117 monitored groundwater wells.

But several people, including Oregon officials, accused the Ohio EPA of not being aggressive enough with Envirosafe.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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