Thursday, July 15, 2004

Colerain Township upset by Rumpke's delay

By Liz Oakes
Enquirer staff writer

COLERAIN TOWNSHIP - Rumpke officials say they knew three years ago that contaminated water was moving through bedrock; that has made some township officials unhappy they were in the dark until just days ago about ammonia discovered leaking into a creek.

The ammonia leak into Banklick Creek found June 30 at Rumpke's Hughes Road landfill had its roots in containment problems dating to 2001, company officials said.

Township officials say they should have been informed earlier about the leak.

"We need to know right away," Trustee Keith Corman told Rumpke officials at the trustees' meeting Tuesday.

"If the water's moving, it's gonna end up somewhere," said Trustee Bernie Fiedeldey on Wednesday. "I don't like to find out things that way."

Rumpke said a public hearing on the problem was held in 2001.

"It's paramount that we notify the township, and in the future we will make sure they are one of the first groups to be notified," said Amanda Wilson, Rumpke spokeswoman.

Company officials said they were hoping by today to begin digging a trench about 20 feet deep and 500 feet long to try to keep the migrating water contained.

The leak comes a month before the latest Ohio EPA public hearing on one of several permits Rumpke needs to construct a long-planned southern expansion of its landfill.

The hearing is 7 p.m. Aug. 5 at the township administration building, 4200 Springdale Road.

Rumpke officials say they were following state regulations, and don't anticipate a fine or fallout on the permit application.

"They've been taking all the necessary steps to contain the problem and make sure it stays out of the creek," said Dina Pierce, spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

"We do take into consideration compliance," she added.

The water, which contains high concentrations of ammonia, is leaching from an older area of the landfill, down to bedrock and then moving underground, company officials say.

Environmental and health officials from the state and Hamilton County said last week after sampling the water downstream that the leak did not pose a threat to people and that there was no sign of dead fish or injured wildlife.

"We're talking gallons per day, not gallons per hour," said Larry Riddle, landfill manager.

But Riddle said he couldn't tell exactly how much was leaking because Rumpke does not have access to the creek site, which is privately owned.

Fiedeldey worries about what else might go wrong, and how long it would take Rumpke to find out.

He wants to see the county sample the stream monthly.


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