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Cleanup Planned for Tainted Creeks Near Ohio Superfund Site

CHICAGO, Illinois, July 14, 2008 (ENS) – A month-long public comment period begins today on a proposed $3.8 million plan to clean a toxic insecticide from soil and sediment in two creeks near the Nease Chemical Superfund site in Columbiana County, Ohio.

The Nease Chemical Co. operated from 1961 to 1973, producing household cleaning products, fire retardants and pesticides, including an uncommon chemical called mirex.

Mirex has been listed as a persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic pollutant by the EPA. It is a manufactured insecticide in the form of a white crystalline odorless solid used to control fire ants and as a flame retardant in plastic, rubber, paint, paper and electronics. It was banned in the United States in 1978.

The Superfund site covers 44 acres along state Route 14, 2.5 miles northwest of Salem on the Columbiana-Mahoning county line.

At the Nease Superfund site unlined ponds were used to treat chemical waste, which seeped into the area’s soil and ground water. Surface water runoff from the waste treatment ponds flowed into nearby Feeder Creek tributaries that run through the site causing pollution in the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek which is east of the site.

Rutgers Organics, based in Germany, acquired the property in 1977, but never operated there. The site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983.

After reviewing a feasibility study prepared by the responsible party Rutgers Organics Corp., U.S. EPA Region 5 evaluated three cleanup alternatives.


Nease Superfund Site near Salem,
Ohio. (Panoramic Photo Collage by
Masumi Hayashi)

The agency’s $3.8 million plan is considered to be “protective of human health and the environment. It will provide long-term effectiveness and is cost-effective,” the agency said.

The plan entails removal of the most contaminated sediment in the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek and removal of Feeder Creek sediment. It includes removal of the most contaminated floodplain surface soil.

All this contaminated soil and sediment will be disposed back on the Superfund site at the former Nease facility, where it will be covered with clean soil, the EPA says.

Separate from the work outlined in this proposed cleanup plan, EPA approved a cleanup plan in 2006 to address the portion of the Nease site known as Operable Unit 2.

Ground water and mirex-contaminated soil cleanup work for this portion of the site of the site is expected to continue through 2011.

Mirex breaks down slowly in the environment and may remain in soil for years,” the EPA wants. It can build up in fish or other organisms that live in contaminated bodies of water, and it can also build up in animals or people who eat contaminated fish.

The EPA says on its website, “We are not sure now mirex affects people’s health, but it may cause cancer and can affect the skin, liver, and nervous and reproductive systems. Exposure to mirex happens from eating food or touching soil containing the chemical.”

A meeting to accept public input on the plan will be held at 6:30 pm, July 31, at Salem Public Library, 821 E. State St.

Residents who need special accommodations for the meeting may contact Community Involvement Coordinator Susan Pastor by July 24 at 800-621-8431, Ext. 31325, or pastor.susan@epa.gov.

Comments also will be accepted online via www.epa.gov/region5/sites/nease, where background information including a current fact sheet can be viewed.

EPA will choose a final cleanup plan after reviewing all comments received during the comment period. The agency may modify its proposed plan or select another of the options outlined at the public meeting or in the fact sheet.

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