July 26, 2014

Elyria
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Moen seeks to redevelop Woodland Avenue property

ELYRIA – Moen Inc. is looking to have a 31-acre property on Woodland Avenue receive an urban setting designation that will free the company from a more stringent form of environmental clean-up as it looks to redevelop the property.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency considers the property at 377 Woodland Ave. to be a brownfield and must be cleaned up before a development plan can be completed.

In seeking the designation, Moen has entered into the Ohio EPA’s voluntary action program, which means Moen has taken it upon themselves to evaluate the property and do any necessary remediation without the Ohio EPA stepping in, Ohio EPA Spokesman Mike Settles said.

“Moen has been working with the Ohio EPA and has already removed a great deal of impacted soil that was the source of ground water contamination,” he said. “Moen has been conducting groundwater treatment activities in the city, striving to restore the groundwater to portable use – for drinking and bathing.”

Settles said for Moen to be granted the designation it will have to prove that no one within a half mile of the site will use groundwater for drinking and bathing.

“It is not likely Moen will be able to remove all of the contamination and because of its setting in a city and all of the surrounding area is connected to the city water supply, the USD will likely be granted,” he said.

Seeking the USD will remove the requirement of complete remediation from any kind of environmental action plan. Settles said several such designations have been granted for former commercial and industrial sites in other urban areas like Cleveland and Youngstown.

“It’s another means of getting the OK to look at the other problems on the property instead of spending an enormous amount of money to clean up groundwater no one will ever use,” he said.

Settles said he does not know what kind of contamination was found at the site or what future plans are for the property.

The USD application was submitted by Groundwater & Environmental Services Inc. on behalf of Moen.

Elyria Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the city was contacted to provide information concerning the water supply to the property. All water received from the city comes from Lake Erie through the city’s water plant in Lorain, where it is extensively treated.

She likewise does not know what Moen may want to do with the property in the future. They have submitted no documentation to the city.

“It’s a Moen property. Whether it is specifically the Moen company, I can’t speak to that,” she said. “They don’t have to tell us why they are asking for the designation.”

The city does own a very small parcel on Lowell Street on the fringe of the Moen property, but it will not be affected. Siwierka said the city owns a former weigh station for trucks that hasn’t been used in decades.

Settles said the public is allowed to comment on Moen’s request.

Written comments may be mailed to Susan Netzly-Watkins, Ohio EPA Northeast District Office, 2110 East Aurora Road, Twinsburg, OH44087 or emailed to susan.netzly@epa.ohio.gov. Public comments received by Oct. 25 will be considered before the Ohio EPA director makes a final decision.

The USD application is available for review by first calling (330) 963-1200.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.

 

  • http://politicsarepersonalblog.blogspot.com/ Suzan Smith

    The EPA will use taxpayer monies for whatever they do for Moen.

  • Bob Owens

    Let Moen pay for it. They took the jobs out of Elyria and left this mess. It’s sad that it sits smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood.

  • Mark_Chesler

    …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.”

    A seminal, 152 page 2001 Gund Foundation funded study by the Green Environmental Council confirmed the critics’ predictions. A dearth of agency resources to provide meaningful regulatory oversight combined with the lack of a credible, established enforcement mechanism has rendered the feckless, industry aligned program toothless. “It’s a broken program – it doesn’t work,” declared the council’s Bruce Cornett in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Both the Sierra Club and Ohio Citizen Action opposed the 2000 $400 million Clean Ohio state bond issue out of concern the fungible proceeds could be utilized to prop up the lame Voluntary Action Program and create a trojan horse polluters slush fund. “This is the governor’s attempt to whitewash his EPA,” charged Jane Forrest Redfern, environmental projects director for Ohio Citizen Action in a November 1, 2000, Cleveland Plain Dealer article. Dedicated professionals, veteran Ohio EPA bureaucrats attempted to rectify the problem. According to the October 4, 2000, Cleveland Plain Dealer, “EPA staffers who shared some of the environmentalists’ concerns, at one point launched a quiet but unsuccessful campaign to disband the program.”

    For six years after the Voluntary Action Program’s 1996 implementation, the U.S. EPA refused to extend program participants federal immunity and threatened to decertify the Ohio EPA due to the VAP’s expansive, inhibiting secrecy provisions and tangible lack of transparency. In a brokered, bifurcated modification to the Ohio VAP that “frankly doesn’t make sense at all,” according to Ohio Public Interest Research Group director Amy Simpson (Akron Beacon Journal, February 24, 2001), an alternative “memorandum of agreement” VAP track with enhanced public access was crafted. Companies that elect the original, opaque, “classic” option, which conceals under an embargo the extent and nature of contamination, will not be afforded U.S. EPA liability insulation. “Why Ohio would want a two-headed monster is beyond me,” quipped the Ohio Environmental Council’s Jack Shaner. In SCA’s case, the jaundiced, green and incompliant wants to hide what you can’t see.

    Mark Chesler
    Oberlin, Ohio