More than 650 people attended a public forum held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday night at Northwestern High School in Clark County. The forum allowed residents to voice concerns over the EPA's refusal to stick with its original cleanup plan for the Tremont City Landfill.
The EPA stated in 2010 that the agency would clean up the Tremont City landfill by removing all of the 300,000 gallons of hazardous waste from the site for close to $55 million (known as Plan 4a), but subsequently changed its plan. The new remedy (Plan 9a) calls for re-burying some of the waste and empty drums for about half that.
State Sen. Chris Widener said the EPA could cost residents health, and the local economy jobs if it doesn't remove all of the waste and sticks with the 9a clean-up plan.
"We want all of this waste gone. This is hazardous waste, it's over the largest aquifer, single source aquifer in the entire United States of America," he explained. "It's important not only to Springfield and Clark County, but also Greene County and everyone else downstream all the way to the Ohio River."
Joan Tanaka of the EPA, addressed the crowd during the three-hour-plus presentation. She stated that getting the site on the National Priorities List will help with the site clean-up, but the Ohio EPA will also have to approve what plan is used and they haven't yet.
"We would like to move forward with the site on the National Priorities List," Tanaka said. "We think that that is the best way to get things done assuredly. If the state is not going to support that option we are going to need to proceed in a way a little bit differently than we had originally intended."
Marilyn Welker, of the group People For Safe Water, believes Gov. John Kasich can get the site on the National Priorities List.
"I know that this National Priorities listing comes up every six months," Welker said. "We've missed the fall listing proposal - it would come up again this spring. My understanding is that Gov. Kasich will have a choice again to sign for this probably by December."
Waste Management represents the responsible parties expected to pay for the cleanup. No deadline has been set to start the clean-up of the Tremont City Landfill.