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EPA approves cleanup of former sports arena site
Written by Kelly Kaczala   
Thursday, 20 May 2010 15:01

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has approved redevelopment of the former Sports Arena property on Main Street following a pollution investigation and clean up of the site.

The City of Toledo and Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority assessed the 55-acre property at 1 Main St. through the Ohio EPA’s Voluntary Action Program (VAP), which gives property owners the chance to voluntarily assess and, if necessary, remover pollution from a property, according to Dina Pierce, northwest district media coordinator for the Ohio EPA. The agency then issues a release of liability, known as a covenant not to sue, once the property meets cleanup standards of the Ohio EPA.

A site assessment showed there were several areas contaminated with metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, total petroleum hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds that were above direct human contact standards, according to Pierce. Soil was removed from the site for disposal and pavement was laid in one area to prevent future contact with soil. An environmental covenant will prohibit the use of ground water under the site.

“The purpose of this is to prohibit use of ground water for any potable use – drinking water wells, filling swimming pools, ponds - any use where people may end up ingesting or coming into physical contact with water,” said Pierce. It shouldn’t be an issue at the site, she added, because it is served by the Toledo water system.

The site is being prepared for residential redevelopment. Further site engineering will be done as development occurs to prevent contact with soil in certain areas, she said. The city and port authority also will collect data on soil gas and ground water to determine risk from potential vapor intrusion to residences. Vapor intrusion is when gases from soil or ground water seep out of the ground and into buildings, said Pierce.

“It isn’t typically a problem when vapors escape into the outdoor air. It can be a problem if they seep into buildings, which confine the vapors, allowing them to build up to levels that can become a health concern,” said Pierce. “Buildings with basements and crawl spaces are more susceptible than slab construction. Probably the best known example is with radon. Radon is a naturally occurring substance in the earth. In many areas of Ohio and the world, it is present in high enough levels that it can seep into homes and increase the risk of lung cancer. Certain man-made chemicals also can be a vapor intrusion concern if present in high enough quantities. This stipulation requires property owners to monitor for vapor intrusion once residential buildings are constructed on the former arena site.”

If soil or ground water vapor does not meet risk-based standards, additional remediation will occur to assure residences meet risk standards before anyone is permitted to live in the homes, according to Pierce.

“There are standards in place for Ohio EPA’s VAP to provide guidance where low levels of contamination remain at the sites, such as the former sports arena,” said Pierce. “The data the city and port authority collect on ground water and soil gases will be used to determine if the gases pose a health risk and if so, how much. If the levels rise about the acceptable risk level, then they will have to take action.”

The site is part of a larger brownfield redevelopment project known collectively as the Marina District. A 32-acre parcel along Front Street, also part of the Marina District, received a covenant not to sue from the Ohio EPA in May, 2008, said Pierce. “That strip was divided into two parcels for purposes of doing an environmental assessment and cleanup through Ohio EPA’s Voluntary Action Program,” said Pierce.

The agency audits at least 25 percent of properties that apply for a release of liability to determine if the assessment followed the rule requirements and cleanup standards have been met, according to Pierce. This ensures the public and future property owners that the businesses or individuals who performed the investigations and cleanups have followed appropriate rules and standards.

Since the Ohio EPA issued its first covenant under VAP 15 years ago, more than 4,350 acres of blighted land has been revitalized at more than 260 properties across the state, according to Pierce.

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Sustainable Community Associates' Tainted, Titanic Wreck
posted by Mark Chesler, June 02, 2010
...In a June 26, 1994, Cleveland Plain Dealer article entitled Environmentalists Leery of Possible Loopholes, Chris Trepal, co-director of the Earth Day Coalition in Northeast Ohio, lambasted the enabling VAP legislation as "one of the poorest public policy measures I’ve ever seen." A clairvoyant Richard Sahli, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council, echoed his sentiment in the May 26,1994, Cincinnati Post, "We do predict there will be a lot of shoddy cleanups under this bill the state will never catch." Testifying before the House Energy & Natural Resources Committee on behalf of the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers, Cincinnati environmental lawyer David Altman asserted, "This bill is a definite bait-and-switch. What it is supposed to do and what it does is two different things."...

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By: Kelly Kaczala

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