The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected a plan to clean up the contaminated soil and sediment in Little Beaver Creek and Feeder Creek.
Mary Logan, remedial project manager for the Superfund Program, said Feeder Creek was used to drain run-off from the Nease Chemical Co., which operated from 1961 to 1973 and produced household cleaning products, fire retardants and pesticides. A chemical named mirex was used in some of their products and contaminated the soil and sediment along the two creeks.
She said the plan includes: removing the most contaminated sediment in the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek, removing Feeder Creek's sediment, removing the most contaminated floodplain surface soil and disposing of contaminated soil and sediment at the former Nease Facility.
Logan said the federal agencies next step is to negotiate a consent decree with Rutgers Organics, a German company that acquired the company in 1977 but never operated there.
"The Superfund Program requires us to enter into legal negotiations with the party who will actually do the clean-up," she said. "There's also engineering diagrams that must be drawn up ."
She said the clean-up of the site should begin around 2011 and would likely take about a year.
Logan said there are several ways the agency could accomplish the plan, including dry mechanical dredging, which involves draining a portion of the creek and using backhoes to remove the sediment. Another method she mentioned was hydraulic dredging, which sucks the water and sediment in. The sediment-water mix is piped to a disposal basin on land where the water is drained off and the sediments are left to dry. Water would be cleaned prior to being restored to the creek.
Several factors will determine which approach is used, including the disruption to animal habitations and effectiveness in meeting the EPA's standards.
Logan said that existing roads would be used as much as possible regardless of the approach taken.
"We have a lot of concern for animal's habitats," she said. "That's part of what goes into our plans. We're going with the Ohio EPA to measure the impact cleaning the creeks will have."
She also said the agency will attempt to clean the most contaminated areas before moving onto the lesser contaminated areas that have become homes for animals.
"We may clean-up pockets here and there in the worst one-half mile," she said.
All habitats that are destroyed will be restored, whether over time with the help of nature or by Rutgers.
Contaminated sediments will be transferred to the site of the former Nease Facility and will either be covered with an impenetrable cover or clean soil. The site will be monitored and undergo regular inspections.
"In terms of swimming in the creek, the levels of contamination are not a threat to harm people," Logan said. "As far as fish, the contamination levels seem to be coming down. Other than carp, most fish can be eaten one per week. Carp shouldn't be eaten more than once a month," she said.
Matthew White may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.