Dig it up! Truck it out! That was the theme of a public forum this past week held at Northwestern High School. The US EPA was in town to present a cost effective solution to a decades-long issue at the Tremont City Barrel fill. The only problem is that it did not include what was in a previous fix, the removal of what is remaining of the 51,500 barrels that were buried there.
I estimate there were more than 800 concerned citizens in attendance at the forum. I have never seen such an outpouring of community support for an issue affecting our community during my working career. The energy in the room was electric! We were all interested in what the EPA had to say, and we wanted to have our opportunity to speak as well. The freedom of speech was exhibited throughout the meeting, and that is what makes our Country so great!
So what are we trying to protect? Our sole source aquifer is one of the largest and most productive water sources in the nation. It supplies water to the whole Dayton-Springfield region and approximately 15 million gallons of water a day to the Springfield area. The entire southwest United States would love to have what we take for granted every day.
Our aquifer also supplies water to important Springfield food related companies like Dole Fresh Vegetables, Reiter Dairy, and Woeber Mustard. One of the Chamber’s most valuable marketing tools is our vast, pure water supply from this incredible underground aquifer.
The discussions about what to do with the local barrel fill have been going on for decades. As recent as 2010, the US EPA presented plan 4a which includes:
- Excavating all hazardous wastes
- Transporting all hazardous wastes off-site for treatment
- Consolidating nonhazardous and contaminated soil in an on-site cell
The US EPA presentation to the community this past week was a different plan called 9a which has been agreed upon by the barrel fill owner, Waste Management, and includes:
- Excavating all hazardous wastes
- Transporting liquid waste that passes a paint filter test off-site for treatment
- Reburying the sludge in a cell with an engineered liner
- Places a cap over the waste cell with a monitoring system
I believe the reason why local support for removing the hazardous waste has been so successful is due to the grassroots efforts of People For Safe Water led by Marilyn Welker. This group has held many town hall meetings, and effectively mobilized the support of the City, County, Townships, the business community, and many other organized groups throughout the community.
Charlie Patterson, Clark County Health Commissioner, has also helped lead the charge for a plausible resolution to the barrel fill issue. He has been a strong advocate for the future health of our area by leading the effort with both the US EPA and Ohio EPA. Charlie has also worked closely with our federal and state elected officials to make sure our community’s voice is heard.
Although the 8-acre site where the barrels reside is not affecting our sole source aquifer today, it could at some point in our future. We will need to remain vigilant in our efforts to remove this potential threat to our community and our region once and for all. This is not only a health related concern, but a quality of life issue, as well as one that could impact our ability to lure and keep much needed jobs in our community.
A modified 4a resolution would accomplish what Senator Widener asked for at this most important meeting held last week. Dig it up! Truck it out! Place a liner in the affected area so we can all enjoy a prosperous future. Not to mention protect one of the largest, purest sole source aquifers in North America!
Have a great Chamber Day!