Toxic blob not immediate health threat, could be in long run - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Toxic blob not immediate health threat, could be in long run

Lake Erie from the Port Of Cleveland Lake Erie from the Port Of Cleveland
Lake Erie and the Port Of Cleveland Lake Erie and the Port Of Cleveland
OEPA Illustration of Sediment Spread OEPA Illustration of Sediment Spread

Experts monitoring the so-called "toxic blob" a few miles off of Cleveland's shore said that the situation hasn't significantly changed and doesn't pose an immediate health risk. 

A representative from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it's the long term effects that her agency is concerned about.  

Heidi Griesmer, the deputy director of communications for the OEPA, said that her agency has evidence that the dredged material that was originally dumped in Lake Erie has spread beyond where it was originally spread. She said the OEPA would like the Army Corps of Engineers to do more sampling to figure out where the material has spread. 

The "toxic blob" is actually sediment on the lake's floor that is several miles off the coast of Cleveland, and more than 60 feet below the surface. The Clean Water Act of 1972 changed how industrial materials could be disposed of. Before the Act, Lake Erie was used to dispose of harmful materials.  

Brigadier General Richard G. Kaiser said in a statement, on behalf of the Army Corps of Engineers, that, "Lake Erie at one time was utilized for many types of industrial disposal practices that would not be acceptable today under the Clean Water Act." 

Kaiser said in the statement that the sediment is "miles downstream" form the city of Cleveland's water intakes, and "no scientific evidence supports the hypothesis that a 'toxic blob' is migrating toward the water intakes."  

He went on to say that the Corps will "support as appropriate, any efforts by Ohio, as the owner of the lake bottom, to investigate the
source of the contaminants and build a science-based understanding of their impacts."

Griesmer said the OEPA is working with the Corps and also plans to do its own testing of the sediment to determine if and where the sediment has moved.

John Goersmeyer, the public information officer for the Cleveland Division of Water said that the city has not detected any of the harmful sediment or contaminants in any of the water the city draws from the lake. He said that the city continues to monitor the situation closely and that the water is safe. Griesmer reiterated that even if the city did detect any of the contaminants in the water supply that the city would be able to filter the hazards out.  

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