EPA Begins $7 Million Cleanup at Little Scioto River Site

Residents in Marion, Ohio shouldn't be alarmed if they see workers in protective suits working in their area. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 has begun a projected three-year, $7 million to $10 million cleanup of polluted sediment in the Little Scioto River in that area.

The sediment was contaminated by the Baker Wood Preserving Co., a wood treatment plant that operated from the 1890s to 1960s. A separate EPA cleanup has been under way at the Baker Wood property, a few blocks east of the river, since 1998.

The project, expected to be paid for by EPA using Oil Pollution Act funds, aims to remove up to 40,000 cubic yards of material (about 60,000 tons) from the half-mile North Rockswale Ditch and a 3.5-mile stretch of the Little Scioto River, which flows south toward Columbus 40 miles away. EPA believes chemical waste from Baker Wood, which used creosote and other petroleum byproducts to pressure-treat wood, was discharged directly from the plant to the sewers that drain into the ditch and the river.

The agency will begin clearing and excavating the ditch after the July 4 weekend. Ditch work is expected to run through August.

After that, EPA will establish a series of 200- to 400-foot long "cells" in the river, which will be drained prior to sediment removal. The excavated material will be laid out to dry on a de-watering pad, then shipped to an appropriate disposal facility. The river portion of the cleanup will take about 12 months, spread over two full constructions seasons. Work at the former Baker Wood plant site has been temporarily halted while the river excavation begins. To date, 3,000 tons of contaminated soil have been excavated, treated with a mixture of water and liquid fertilizer and staged for off-site disposal at the plant site. Following further data analysis this summer, EPA will determine its next steps.

A fact sheet about the project will be sent to area residents in the next few weeks. Official documents relative to the site can be found at the Marion Public Library, 445 East Church St. For information, contact community involvement coordinator Susan Pastor at (800) 621-8431, ext 31325, or [email protected]

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