Oregon City Council on Monday will vote on a proposed agreement with Envirosafe Services of Ohio, Inc., that would include dropping its appeal with the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC).
ERAC is reviewing an appeal by the city of a decision by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency that allows the hazardous waste landfill to vertically expand Cell M, the facility’s only active landfill at 867 Otter Creek Road.
The Ohio EPA’s director on Sept. 15, 2005, approved an application for a modification of Envirosafe’s permit to increase the allowable elevation of Cell M at the facility from the limits in the facility’s original permit issued in 1991 by the Ohio Hazardous Waste Facility Board to 714 feet above the mean sea level.
On Oct. 13, 2005, Oregon appealed the Ohio EPA’s decision to ERAC.
Within 14 days from the effective date of the agreement, the city will file a dismissal of its appeal with ERAC.
Within 65 days of the date of the agreement, Envirosafe agrees to submit to the Ohio EPA a request for a permit modification to reduce the above grade permitted elevation of Cell M from 714 feet above the mean sea level to 700 feet above the mean sea level. Envirosafe further agrees that it will not seek to expand the footprint or sideslopes of Cell M from the limits in Envirosafe’s current permit.
Within 60 days of the agreement, Envirosafe would record a Declaration of Restrictions for the property on York Street, known as the Johlin property, which would prohibit its future use as a landfill disposal cell, including use as a solid waste, medical waste, or construction and demolition debris landfill disposal cell. Envirosafe agrees that any future uses of the Johlin property will be in accordance with the current provisions of the Oregon zoning code.
“Envirosafe can build manufacturing on it, but it cannot be used as a landfill,” Mayor Marge Brown told council at a committee of the whole on Aug. 17.
City Law Director Paul Goldberg said by agreeing to cut the slopes of Cell M, Envirosafe will reduce the amount of waste deposited into the landfill.
“Our concern, as long as I’ve been working for Oregon, always has been, safety,” said Goldberg. “I don’t think there are a lot of communities in the United States that relish the thought of having a commercial hazardous waste landfill in their community. And I don’t think anyone here has ever relished that thought. But every administration I’ve served has told me the same thing – we have a business here, and as long as they conform to the law and run a safe operation, they’re going to stay in business here. But anytime we believe it’s not safe, we believe we have a duty to the public to do anything we can to ensure its safety. This is why we appealed these actions. We didn’t think it was particularly safe.”
Goldberg said that an ERAC hearing on the city’s appeal scheduled for next year would have been “extremely expensive” to the city.
“If there was going to be a full blown hearing on our appeal, Envirosafe asked for three weeks to be set aside. A three week hearing, beyond the fact that it’s extremely onerous, and that there’s an awful lot of work preparing for a three week hearing, would be extremely expensive,” said Goldberg.
The city would have to bring in its consultants, who are very expensive, said Goldberg.
“We spent a lot of money on this over the years in legal fees as well as consultant fees. But the result has been very worthwhile when you consider this facility is going to be safe. And, we now have a complete guarantee that the Johlin property will never be used as a hazardous waste facility. So when this landfill is filled up, there will be no more hazardous waste coming into the city,” said Goldberg.
“We concluded that by the time this whole thing shook out, and the appeal process was complete, a good portion of what was being permitted was already being constructed,” said Administrator Ken Filipiak. “It creates a date certain by which landfilling of hazardous waste will cease in Oregon, at least at that immediate site.”
“About 90 percent of what Envirosafe takes in is electric arc furnace dust, a byproduct of the steel making process,” said Goldberg. “Right now, Envirosafe is not taking much in because of the economy, and there’s not much steel being produced. Of course, that’s subject to change.”
Council President Mike Sheehy asked Goldberg why the proposed agreement is being brought before council on emergency.
“Just because there’s some timelines in the agreement, and the quicker we get this done, the quicker Envirosafe will sign it,” said Goldberg. “We want to get this done as soon as possible.”
Tom Hays, who also legally represents the city, said an advantage of the settlement is that Envirosafe can now begin cleanup of the old waste site.
“They are getting ready to do the cleanup of the property. In our discussions with them, we did discuss the fact that we would like to see some of the front part of the old sections, where those lagoons are, cleaned up and made productive because that’s really nice frontage property along the road there. It’s very difficult to accomplish things like that, or move forward on them, where they may already have the money in trust, won’t cost them a dime, but you’re at each other’s throats,” said Hays.
“This has been a long, ongoing struggle,” said Lance Kiefer, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor who is responsible for environmental matters.
“Effectively, the agreement that is being proposed does in fact appear to put an end date to the ongoing operations within your jurisdiction and within our county. It will put us in a position where we can then move to the closure, any additional remediation that needs to be done at that site, and move us away from a situation where we have hazardous waste and other waste being brought into the city and through the county,” said Kiefer.