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Saturday, January 8th, 2011

Ohio EPA warns St. Marys of needed changes for landfill well system

By Amy Kronenberger
ST. MARYS - Ohio EPA has issued a warning to St. Marys and Auglaize County officials of several changes needed in the assessment monitoring wells at the St. Marys landfill.
St. Marys Safety Service Director Tom Hitchcock received a letter from the OEPA stating if action was not taken in 2011 to meet EPA's expectations, enforcement action may be taken on the city. OEPA also forwarded a copy of the letter to Auglaize County Commissioners.
According to the OEPA, the assessment monitoring wells are placed at the landfill to monitor groundwater and significant areas of saturation to ensure no contamination occurs, or if it does, it can be caught quickly and fixed.
In a letter to Hitchcock, Brent Goetz, environmental specialist of the Division of Solid and Infectious Waste Management, wrote of OEPA's evaluation from a July 13 and 14 sampling event.
"Based on Ohio EPA's evaluation, the well systems are not adequate for the significant zones of saturation," Goetz wrote. "The owner (city of St. Marys) should move toward implementation of an effective corrective measure."
First in the list of noted violations was timing of samplings. In order to sample the water, the wells must be purged dry and refilled. Each well refills at a different rate, so EPA states the testing should occur as soon as possible within the next 24 hours.
St. Marys hired development and engineering company Hull and Associates of Columbus to maintain and test the wells, Hitchcock said. To save the city money, Hull would wait close to 24 hours and test all the wells at once, instead of returning repeatedly to test them individually.
Doing so causes a temperature variation of the water in individual wells, which causes chemical variations, Hitchcock said. This, in turn, causes a possible inaccurate representation of groundwater quality. OEPA requires consistent sampling.
"The owner needs to sample wells that purge dry as soon as enough water is available," Goetz wrote. "Other wells should be sampled immediately after purging to ensure that representative samples are collected."
Goetz also indicated an incident when a small amount of chloride was detected in two of the wells, but was not reported to the EPA. Although the amount found was not enough to require action, EPA states that findings must be reported.
Goetz stated another violation occurred when St. Marys did not provide an adequate number of maps for zones of saturation. The city only provided one map. However, the cross sections provided by the city in 2009 indicated two, and possibly three separate significant zones of saturation. The city must provide a map for each zone.
Other violations listed in Hitchcock's letter included adding additional wells, proper cleaning and flushing of existing wells to keep turbidity (sediment levels) low and updating and redeveloping existing wells.
Hitchcock met with commissioners Thursday to explain the violations and decide a plan of action.
"Everything can be done," Hitchcock said to commissioners. "It just takes money."
Hitchcock and commissioners will meet with Hull and Associates and Goetz to decide what actions to take. Commissioner Don Regula said they would make the calls and set a meeting as soon as possible.
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