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EPA Forum Addresses Controversial Clark County Landfill

Wayne Baker

The US Environmental Protection Agency hired a third party to conduct a public forum Wednesday night in Springfield to discuss the agency's plan to clean up the Tremont City Landfill. 

Several residents showed up to voice their displeasure concerning the EPA's decision to rebury some of the waste and empty drums at the site instead of removing it all.

"Why'd they hire you, why don't they get the thing cleaned up? That's what we want," a forum participant said during the open session.

That was the question posed to Joseph McMahon of Collaborative Processes, LLC, the contractor hired by EPA to spend a few days in Springfield in order to find out why citizens oppose the agency's current cleanup plan for the Superfund site.
McMahon says that he understands that it's an emotional issue for people living in the area, but he was impressed with the scientific arguments that were presented during his time in Clark County.

"The concerns of the public expressed here tonight are very similar to what I heard in the last two of three days of interviews," he said. "It's an informed community, there's some data they want, there's certainly are some levels of frustration that need to be addressed and there are some questions that they would like to see answered."

In a written statement, EPA says its current approach, is environmentally safe and meets government guidelines and will effectively clean up the landfill.

Clark County Commissioner David Hartley is one of the many local officials supporting the EPA's original plan. He says McMahon's visit amounts to political gamesmanship by the EPA.

"I think that was trying to smooth it out, make us happy, quiet us down.," Hartley said. "I don't think that's going to happen."

Marilyn Welker from the group People for Safe Water, agrees with Hartley.

"We're going to stand strong and hard that we want all that hazardous waste removed and stored permanently elsewhere," she said.

Another public meeting will be held April 21 at Wittenberg University.