Thursday, August 31, 2000

McNicholas told it can't use fly-ash fill

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        City Manager John Shirey has denied a request from McNicholas High School in Mount Washington to use fly ash as fill for an athletic field, a parking lot and a ravine near the school.

        Fly ash, a byproduct of coal burning, is stored in silos at Cinergy's coal-burn ing plants. Neighbors near the school have complained because fly ash is said to contain arsenic, which can be a health hazard.

        In a letter to the school, Mr. Shirey said he based his denial on the arsenic contained in samples taken from the fly ash that was to be used at McNicholas.

        “The residential rejection limit for arsenic in fill materials is 23 parts per million,” Mr. Shirey said. “The arsenic concentrations of three representative samples of fly ash which you proposed (using) at the McNicholas High School site were 53, 24 and 21 parts per million.”

        Mr. Shirey said the school is surrounded by a residential neighborhood.

        “The site is a school use and is used by many young people. Where children are involved, I truly believe we should err on the side of safety,” Mr. Shirey said.

        He said the fill is expected to take two years to complete and would involve trucks hauling arsenic-contaminated fly ash to the site. He said a portion of the fly ash fill area would be open and accessible for the same two-year period.

        “I do not believe it would be advisable to subject the neighborhood, as well as the users of the school property, to possible exposure to such fly ash material for this period of time,” Mr. Shirey said.

        John Murdock, lawyer for the school, said it has not decided whether to appeal the issue to Common Pleas Court.

        “We were disappointed in his decision, but not surprised,” Mr. Murdock said. “We could consider challenging provisions of the regulations the city manager used.”

        Mr. Murdock said the provisions the city manager used apply to fill taken from excavation such as a construction site or dirt re moved from a road project and taken to another site and used as fill.

        It doesn't cover fly ash, which is derived from coal-burning, Mr. Murdock said.

        Mr. Murdock argues that the city ordinance refers to residential and commercial use, not institutional use such as schools, churches and hospitals.


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