SALEM, Ohio (WYTV) – Pollution from a 1960s chemical site in Columbiana County is still being addressed and a forum was held in Salem on Thursday evening to talk about how to restore the natural resources along state Route 14.
The Ohio EPA says hazardous substances got into the soil and groundwater, which came from the old Nease Chemical Plant. Now, an effort is under way to restore the former beauty downstream and neighbors are being invited to give their feedback.
Nease Chemical made household cleaning compounds, fire retardants and pesticides from 1961 to 1973. According to the EPA, the company used unlined ponds to treat waste from the manufacturing process, causing hazardous materials to go into the soil and groundwater.
Bill Zawiski is an environmental scientist for Ohio EPA. He will be involved with removing the Lisbon Dam.
“The cool thing about my job is I get to see things better. And a dam removal makes things better almost from the start,” Zawiski said.
Thursday’s meeting, which drew approximately 50 people, was open for comments on how best to restore natural resources. Taking out the low-head dam on Little Beaver Creek is just one part the project.
“This has been a barrier to fish moving upstream. You are going to remove that barrier. And now those fish below, which are really cool fish, darters and minnows, are going to start moving their way upstream,” Zawiski said.
The larger superfund project will include re-establishing wetlands and improving water quality at the middle fork of Little Beaver Creek.
“And we are really interested in hearing from people and what they feel about removing the dam and a lot of the projects that are being suggested, because they are going to live with what happens when it is completed,” Linda Oros of the Ohio EPA said.
The $22 million in improvements will be paid for by Rutgers Organics Corp., which now owns the site. The project will be overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio EPA.
“We will give guidance and ultimately the approval of any plans for doing this is part of the superfund process. And I will be brought as someone to just say ‘hey, does this make sense ecologically?’,” Zawiski said.
The details are still under negotiations between government agencies and Rutgers Organics, but officials hope the plans to remove the dam will be ready for action later this year.
Residents interested in the project can view more information about the proposed project at the Ohio EPA website.
According to the Ohio EPA, the project includes:
- enhancing and preserving riparian, flood plain and upland habitat to benefit birds and fisheries;
- enhancing, preserving and reestablishing wetlands;
- improving aquatic habitat by removing a low-head dam; and
- providing clean recharge to ground water aquifers and potable use surface water by protecting drinking water resources.
To read more about the plans, click here.