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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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The City of Northwood plans to hire an engineering firm to assess the cost of cleaning up property of an abandoned gas station at 4433 Woodville Rd.

The former AP gas station, marked by rust and overgrown weeds, is deteriorated and endangers the health and safety of the general public, according to a public nuisance abatement order issued to the owners of the property.

The failure to abate the nuisance within 48 hours gives the city the authority to abate the nuisance on its own.

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The purpose of the nuisance abatement order is to allow the city to apply to the Wood County Brownfields Coalition for a grant to pay for a Phase II U.S. EPA Brownfield assessment of the site to determine potential hazards so that the city can abate the nuisance.

“We’re taking the opportunity afforded us by the Brownfields Coalition to clean up the property,” said City Administrator Bob Anderson.

The city is in the process of taking bids to conduct a detailed study of the site, said Anderson.

“The study entails drilling holes in the property to find out exactly what needs to be abated,” he said. “And that takes money. That may be available from the Coalition.”

The city sent the nuisance abatement order by certified mail to the owner of the property, Millennium Properties and Holdings LLC, 35401 Grant Road, Romulus, Michigan, but there was no response.

“In order for us to be able to begin the study, we needed to obtain the legal right to enter the property and begin the abatement of the nuisance,” he said. “We have fulfilled our obligation of notice. Forty-eight hours have passed, and we have not been contacted by then. So we feel we have the authority to enter onto the property and mitigate the nuisance. It’s a city law.”

If awarded the grant, the city plans to hire an engineering firm to conduct a more in-depth study. “Part of it will involve drilling into the ground near the tanks, pulling up the soil and testing it for chemicals, mostly petroleum, to see if there has been any leakage from the tanks. If there is no leakage, it will be easy to clean up because all we will have to do is knock down the structures and dig up the tanks. If the tanks are leaking, the city will have to find out how far the contaminants have spread and how much it’s going to cost to clean up,” he said.

“We will have to see how much it’s going to cost to dig it all up and take it to a proper place where it will be disposed of. And that would be more expensive,” said Anderson. “Basically, the only thing we’re doing now is getting an estimate of the cost of the cleanup, and that in itself is expensive.

Anderson said he is unsure if there will be grants available to actually clean up the site.

“We have to get figures of how much it will cost the city before we decide what we want to do,” he said. “If they say there is no leakage from the tanks, no indication of any petroleum being in the ground water, it would be a lot cheaper for us to somehow obtain the property. If there is major leakage, gas all over the site, we’re going to have to take a hard look on having anything to do with that. To get grants for actual clean up, you have to tie it into the creation of jobs. However, most of the EPA grants are for clean up of larger industrial sites, not small gas stations.”

Dina Pierce, media coordinator with the Northwest District and Southwest District of the Ohio EPA, said there may be funding available to clean up the site.

“A lot will depend on the location of the site, the type of contamination and the intended end use of the property,” said Pierce. “The initial assessment of the site will help identify where they should go seek funding for cleanup.”

At no cost to the city, she said, Ohio EPA, through its Targeted Brownfields Assessment program, will do an initial assessment of the property to help determine whether there is any contamination on site. “The Ohio EPA will do the initial assessment free of charge, either with one of our own, or we will hire and pay for a private contractor to do it. This money is available from a grant U.S. EPA gives to the Ohio EPA annually for this purpose.”

The assessment includes drilling into the ground to take soil and groundwater samples, she added.

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