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OHIO Priority of cleanups seen as a challenge



Published: Thu, February 20, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



One challenge facing the OEPA is determining sources of environmental pollutants.

PART TWO OF A THREE-PART SERIES

By MICHELE C. HLADIK

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS -- Those at the greatest risk and willing to pay the cost of cleanups will see the best results from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in the coming years.

Stuart Bruny, chief of the OEPA's Southeastern Ohio District, said the department has done a good job of taking care of Ohio's larger environmental problems and must now begin looking at those that are harder to see.

Prioritizing the list of problems could prove interesting for the department.

Determining importance

Bruny said each problem must be assessed to determine which projects are the greatest risk and which are worth the cost of the cleanup.

"You get to the point of saying, 'At what risk is it worth paying to clean up?'" Bruny said. "Everybody sees this differently."

He said looking at the past can give insight into to what needs to be accomplished.

"I've never been very good at reading crystal balls," he said.

Improved department

The past has been good to the OEPA, according to Bruny, who said the department made significant improvements over the years.

He said the department "got the low-hanging fruit first" and will focus the next 25 years on the smaller environmental problems.

"Those smaller bits get harder and more expensive to address," Bruny said.

"I see us continuing to improve, but not at the pace seen in the last 30 years."

The next 25 to 30 years may prove challenging.

Bruny said the department plans to focus on air toxins, and another challenge is determining the source of environmental pollutants. Bruny said that at one time, it was easy to find a pollution source, particularly with the pollution of water because there were usually pipes leading back to the sources. But now the department must account for problems including runoff from storm water and fertilizers from farms. Ohio yards will also see attention from the department.

Bruny said farmers should manage their land carefully and that people need to be careful of what they dump in their yards or down a drain.

Bruny said the key is to start in schools, teaching students about environmental issues. "They'll be the next leaders of our state and local government and businesses," he stated.




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