A Discussion on Superfund Contamination Clean Up

In contemplating my topic to write about I was having a mild amount of difficulty, not too much but you could say I was confused. Then I heard a knock at the door, when I answered I was given a pamphlet that informed me of the contamination present in out water. One of the issues involved talked of superfund contamination clean up, this was new to me so to the internet I went.

After researching Superfunds, I found that dangers to the environment are much closer to home then one may think. In fact, I found that, in Ohio, Butler County was in the second highest risk category for contamination by Superfunds. Butler County is home to three superfunds: the Chem Dyne Corporation, the Skinner Landfill, and the Feed Materials Production Center (operated by the U.S. Department of Energy). All three have significantly affected the environment in Butler County. The contaminants that have resulted from these industries have affected the ground water, surface water, air, and soil. The idea of contaminated groundwater is especially scary considering the importance it has to everyone's life. According to USGS figures, groundwater provides an estimated

Fortunately, there are numerous agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and countless other grass-roots organizations, which oversee the safety of the environment. They have made important steps in creating and enforcing standards for businesses to abide by.

The first Superfund that I will discuss is the Chem Dyne Corporation. Starting in 1975, Chem Dyne operated a chemical waste transfer, disposal, and storage facility (5). The facility was located on a 10acre site in Hamilton (5). Chem Dyne dealt with wastes such as pesticides, acids, solvents, PCBS, resins and heavy metals (2). Through the discharge of chemicals into surface water, waste tanks above and belowground, and unauthorized dumping, Chem Dyne caused contamination of air, soil, surface water, and ground water (5). Although drinking water is not yet known to have been affected, the groundwater was contaminated with volatile organic compounds and heavy metals (5). Both of these types of contaminants have been linked with one or several of the following: cancer, liver, kidney, and nervous system problems (4). In July 1979, the State Court required that all material be removed from the site by July 1980 (5). The state has spent over $300,000 cleaning this site (5). According to EPA standards, this site is in the "construction completed" stage of clean up. This does not mean, however that actual cleanup is complete because groundwater may need to be treated more than 30 years before contaminants are at accepted levels (5).

The next Superfund that has greatly influenced the environment of Butler County is the Skinner Landfill. The Landfill is on 85 acres in West Chester (2). The facility was privately owned and was never actually licensed, so it closed in the 1970's (5). The landfill contains about 100 drums of chlorinated organics, and heavy metals. Along with the presence of the drums is the fact that a nearby lagoon was once used as a disposal for these contaminants, and that the site had problems with unauthorized dumping (5). Fortunately, no contaminants have been discovered leaving the site (5). The presence of these pollutants in ground water would have similar results to the Chem Dyne pollutants: cancer, kidney, liver, and central nervous system troubles (4). Currently, the site is in the "construction underway" stage of clean up (5). The EPA says that this "follows the remedial phase and involves the actual construction or implementation phase of Superfund site cleanup."

The final Superfund I will discuss is the Feed Materials Production Center (FMPC). This site is in Fernald, 20 miles northwest of Cincinnati (2). It is 1,450 acres and resides in both Butler and Hamilton Counties. (2). The FMPC manufactures fuel elements, target cores, and other Uranium+ products (5). The products are utilized in production reactors for the U.S. Department of Defense (5). Some of the materials on the site are Mercury, Barium, Thorium, Tetrachloroethylene, Arsenic, and PCBS (5). Just as the previously mentioned pollutants, these chemicals can cause anything from liver problems to cancer (4). Disposal and operational deficiencies have led to the contamination of soil, air, surface water and ground water (5). Also related to the site, was the detection of radon gas in the atmosphere by on-site monitoring equipment (5). A remedial investigation and feasibility study is in progress to determine the full impact of the contamination (2). When the study is complete, alternatives for remedial action will be identified (5).

I was very surprise to find out how my own backyard is being affected by major contaminants. It seemed that this sort of things was only happening in movies to people who lived somewhere far away from here. I suppose it was naïve to assume that corporations in Ohio would not have the same hazardous effect on the environment, as did those in California and the world. To show you how much of a problem superfund is here are some useful statistics with regard to the U.S. and a select few foreign regions.

Region 1 CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT

Region 2 NJ, NY, PR, VI

Region 3 DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, WV

Region 4 AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN

Region 5 IL, IN, MI, MN, WI, OH

Region 6 AR, LA, NM, OK, TX

Region 7 IA, KS, MO, NE

Region 8 CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY

Region 9 AS, AZ, CA, GU, HI, NV, TT, CM

Region 10 AK, ID, OR, WA

As disconcerting as the facts are, it is comforting to know that there are resources for people who are interested in understanding what is happening around them and what they can to about it. There are countless consumer groups and environmental groups whose purpose is to help educate the public and to keep an eye on environment violators. With the constant effort of these organizations hopefully the polluters will at least be caught if not eliminated in the U.S.. One day hopefully our world will police themselves when it comes to the one resource that is priceless.