Saturday, July 29, 2000

Landfill dispute continues

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The Skinner landfill dispute continues as a federal judge reviews public comments on a consent decree between polluters and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

        Some residents are critical of the decree, saying it doesn't live up to an agreement made with them earlier.

        Work is not likely to start on the closed landfill until spring, said Scott Hansen, EPA remedial project manager.

        The landfill sits on 78 acres off Cincinnati-Dayton Road across from Union Elementary School. It is adjacent to Skinner Creek to the west and the East Fork of Mill Creek to the south.

        For more than half a century, Skinner was a major disposal site for companies and municipalities. Among the waste was toxic chemi cals and construction debris. EPA closed it in 1990 and fenced it in 1996.

        The consent decree came after a lengthy hearing before a court-appointed allocator who decided how much each polluter should pay for the cleanup. It stipulates that $3.32 million in cleanup costs be split among 53 companies and several municipalities, listed as small polluters in the decree.

        Seven municipalities — Blue Ash, Deer Park, Madeira, Mason, Sharonville, Lincoln Heights and Monroe — will pay a total of $17,218.

        About $600,000 will come from the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency and the General Services Administration. Four federal agencies, listed as smaller polluters, will contribute about $58,000 total.

        The rest of the estimated cleanup cost of $11 million will be split among 13 major polluters: Anchor Hocking Corp., Chemical Leaman, Dow Chemical Co., Ford Motor Co., Formica Corp., Henkel Corp., General Electric Aircraft Engines, General Motors Corp., King Wrecking Co., King Container Services Inc., Monsanto Co., Oxy USA and Velsicol Chemical Corp.

        Monitoring wells show that ground water in the area is contaminated with heavy concentrations of phenol, acetone, benzene, toluene, xylenes and a host of other substances identified by the EPA as dangerous.

        Mr. Hansen said none of the aquifers in that area is used for drinking, but ground water is slowly moving toward Mill Creek.

        “If the contaminated water gets into the Mill Creek, it could get into the Ohio River where lots of drinking comes from,” Mr. Hansen said.

        Beth Hauer, president of the Citizens Lobby for Environmental Action, called the consent decree a “back door deal” and not what neighbors wanted. She said EPA backed away from a 1993 plan approved by residents.

        “This plan outlined in the consent decree to clean up the landfill is a joke,” she said. “We are not getting half of what was agreed to by residents and EPA.”

        Mrs. Hauer said the plan residents agreed to called for underground barriers on the north side of the landfill to prevent water from carrying buried chemicals toward Mill Creek.

        Mr. Hansen said the consent decree is the same as the 1993 agreement.

        “The barrier to the north is still in the consent decree,” he said. “It just calls for a two-year waiting period to see if the ground water seeps into the contaminated area. If it does, we will install the barrier.”

        “It still calls for covering the site with waterproof plastic and topping it with dirt and grass,” Mr. Hansen said.


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