EPA Calls For Natural Cleanup At Superfund Site

UNIONTOWN, Ohio (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a new cleanup plan for a closed toxic waste dump that calls for planting more trees and other vegetation.

The EPA wants the 30-acre Industrial Excess Landfill in Stark County between Akron and Canton to naturally cleanse the contaminants in the groundwater.

The $7 million plan calls for upgrading the groundwater monitoring system and working to eliminate a benzene problem in the water under the dump.

The landfill, where industrial wastes were dumped, ceased operations in 1980 and was covered with soil. The U.S. EPA declared it a Superfund site in 1984.

The cost of the cleanup will be paid by Goodyear, B.F. Goodrich, Bridgestone/Firestone and GenCorp, which support the new plan.

The new remedy does not require installation of a $9 million synthetic cap over the landfill to prevent rainwater from permeating the site -- an element of the original federal cleanup plan.

The EPA said this new plan is being considered because the groundwater at the dump is improving and because there is strong local interest in a cleanup remedy that would permit more flexible land use.

Chris Borello of the Concerned Citizens of Lake Township, a grass-roots group, expressed dismay that the EPA was proceeding with what she called "a blue-light special ... a non-cleanup."

Her organization intends to continue fighting for a more thorough and safer cleanup, she said.

Repeated tests of groundwater have found benzene, a chemical suspected of causing cancer, in troublesome levels under the dump.

There is no evidence that benzene has moved off site or poses a threat to neighbors, officials say.

Concerned Citizens of Lake Township contend there is radiation at the dump. Federal officials insist radiation is not a problem there.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)