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Published: Thursday, 10/29/2009

EPA clears Toledo casino site for development


COLUMBUS — State environmental officials said Thursday that the brownish-red substance leaking into the Maumee River from the proposed site of a Toledo casino does not pose an immediate health concern and again gave the landowner the thumbs-up for development.

Dina Pierce, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Environmental Protection, said more in-depth testing on samples taken at the site on Sept. 24 found nothing surprising.

"This is not the only site that has this issue," she said. "Where this is seeping is along the river bank. What is happening is that, as storm water or snow melt soaks into the ground, it goes through these old sand ponds and pulls out some contaminants, most of it metals.

"If you build on it and lay concrete or blacktop, you would prevent storm water from getting in and reduce if not eliminate a lot of the leaching," she said.

The EPA had previously issued a covenant-not-to-sue to the property owner, Middletown-based River Road Developments, following a taxpayer-financed cleanup of the site off I-75 abutting Rossford. The 44-acre site was previously owned by Libbey-Owens-Ford and Pilkington North America, which used it for waste-sand ponds from glass-making operations.

Ms. Pierce said EPA will remain in contact with River Road, but sees nothing interfering with the original plan of limited development of the site for commercial, industrial, or multi-family residential use such as apartments or condos.

The cleanup involved the removal and replacement of two feet of soil, so construction would essentially have to be at grade level on a slab with no basements. Penn National Gaming, which would operate the Toledo casino if Issue 3 passes Tuesday, has talked about a large gaming area on a single level.

Issue 3 asks voters to authorize 24-hour, Las Vegas-style casinos on four specific sites in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

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