EPA finalize plan for
Dayton St. site cleanup
Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that
the agency and Vernay Laboratories had entered into an administrative
order on consent regarding cleanup of hazardous waste on and around the
companys Dayton Street property.
The U.S. EPA-supervised cleanup was a requirement of the settlement of
a lawsuit brought by six neighbors against Vernay. The lawsuit, filed
in 1999, was settled in February 2002, with Vernay paying $850,000 in
attorney fees for the plaintiffs attorney, David Altman of Cincinnati,
and an undisclosed amount to the plaintiffs. The settlement also included
a $25,000 fine against Vernay for violation of the Clean Water Act and
$455,000 to be used by the plaintiffs for oversight of the cleanup.
In May, the U.S. EPA labeled Vernay a high priority cleanup
Beginning in 1989, high levels of volatile inorganic chemicals have been
found in soil and groundwater at the site. Contaminants have also been
found on Wright Street, Dayton Street and Omar Circle. Following a new
discovery in 1998, Vernay attempted to begin a voluntary cleanup under
the auspices of the Ohio EPA, but stopped cleanup attempts when neighbors
filed the lawsuit, according to Vernay CEO Tom Allen.
Both Vernay and Altman expressed satisfaction with the EPA order, which
was finalized on Sept. 27.
Were very pleased that the order was finally issued,
said Altman. This is the centerpiece for the cleanup that weve
been waiting for.
Were very glad we can get started, Allen said. Weve
been committed to the cleanup of the site since we found the evidence
in 1998. At that time we acted as quickly as we could, acknowledging the
problem and beginning an investigation and cleanup.
In June, Vernay announced plans to close its two Dayton Street plants,
in part, to facilitate its cleanup effort. The company also cited Vernays
poor financial performance in recent years for the closure, which will
eliminate 185 local jobs.
In July, a second lawsuit was filed against Vernay by one of its neighbors,
claiming solid and hazardous wastes originating from Vernay have contaminated
the neighbors property.
The Administrative Order on Consent is a streamlined
version of a traditional EPA order, said EPA Project Manager Patricia
Polston, who will oversee the cleanup. The streamlined order attempts
to move cleanup efforts along more quickly than traditional orders, she
said, since the order uses an informal system of checks, such as e-mails
and phone calls, rather than formal, time-consuming checks. Thus, the
cleanup effort can move more quickly through the system, she said.
The EPA tends to choose the streamlined order for businesses that are
cooperative, she said, and we have found Vernay to be very cooperative.
Rather than a unilateral order, a streamlined order works with negotiated
goals to which both parties agree, she said.
The orders plan begins with investigation of the extent of soil
and groundwater pollution both on and off site, said Polston, because
right now we do not know the extent of the plume of contamination
originating from Vernays property.
The order requests that by the end of November Vernay provide the EPA
with a current conditions report that includes recent sampling from the
facility. The facility does currently monitor several wells both on and
off site, Allen said.
The cleanup effort will take place in two phases, according to Polston,
beginning with testing of the storm sewer system and of the Cedarville
aquifer, which is located directly beneath the Vernay site, from about
4 feet to a depth of about 100 feet. Previous testing has indicated a
high level of contaminants in the middle region of the Cedarville
aquifer, according to Altman, but deeper testing has not been done.
The first phase involves quarterly reports of groundwater monitoring of
the Cedarville aquifer as well as the installation of additional groundwater
capture wells in the aquifer, according to the EPA order. The investigation
of the upper, middle and lower levels of the Cedarville aquifer will be
completed no later than June 30, 2004, according to the order.
During the cleanups first phase, Vernay will also submit to the
EPA at specific intervals evidence that migration of groundwater from
the Cedarville aquifer has been stabilized and that all current
human exposures to contamination at or from the facility are under control.
If contamination is found in the lower level of the Cedarville aquifer,
then the cleanup will enter Phase II. In the second phase, Vernay will
be required to conduct tests in the Brassfield aquifer, which is located
below the Cedarville aquifer, according to the order. These tests, and
a facility investigation report, must be completed no later than Dec.
31, 2004, according to the EPA order.
Research into possible contamination of the Brassfield aquifer is very
important, according to Antioch College geology professor Peter
Townsend, because the aquifer may flow into the Village wellfields, which
are located several miles south of town.
No one knows the answer to whether or not the Brassfield aquifer
flows into the wellfields, said Townsend, because there hasnt
been enough investigation yet.