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ENVIRONMENT Mahoning River cleanup pact OK'd



Published: Tue, January 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The cost of a feasibility study is estimated at $3 million.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

AUSTINTOWN -- Cleanup of the Mahoning River is years away, but an agreement between Eastgate Regional County of Governments and the Army Corps of Engineers lays the groundwork for early steps.

Eastgate's general policy board approved two resolutions Monday authorizing an agreement between Eastgate and the corps regarding the Mahoning River dredging project.

Carmen Rozzi, corps project manager, told board members that Eastgate agreed to be the sponsor for the agreement last month when Youngstown State University opted not to participate.

Feasibility study: A feasibility study will give a better idea of the cost to remove contaminated sediment at the base and along the banks of the river.

The cost of the study is estimated at $3 million, and the project is eligible to receive a portion of those funds through the city of Massillon, which is receiving a $32 million Ohio Environmental Protection loan to upgrade its waste treatment plant.

The Massillon project is eligible for an OEPA program aimed at stream restoration projects, and Massillon has agreed to include the Mahoning River dredging project's feasibility study as one of its stream restoration projects.

The Ohio grant would be used as the $1.5 million local match to garner a $1.5 million federal EPA grant.

In return, Massillon is asking for an $80,000 administrative fee.

William D. DeCicco, chairman of the Mahoning River Consortium, said the total is approaching that goal.

"About $76,000 has been raised, and we feel we have an excellent chance to meet that $80,000 goal," he said.

Sought contributions: Warren Mayor Hank Angelo and Gary Newbrough, director of the Trumbull County Planning Commission, approached communities, groups and businesses about the contributions.

The participation of a local sponsor was required to get the federal money, and Eastgate agreed to fill that role.

In May 1999, the corps completed a $500,000 study outlining how to remove industrial pollution from the river, considered one of the five most polluted in the state.

Steels mills operated along the river from the early 1900s to the mid-1980s, discharging contaminants into the river. Since 1988, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has warned residents against any contact with the river sediment.

Area in question: The 1999 study called for dredging 31 miles of the Mahoning, from north of Warren to the Pennsylvania state line.

It would take several years and about $100 million for the dredging project. Of that, about $35 million would be needed as a local match.

dick@vindy.com




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