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Lowellville to get state funds to clean up contaminated soil

Published: Tue, February 19, 2013 @ 12:04 a.m.

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By Peter H. Milliken



The village of Lowellville has been tentatively awarded a $2.4 million Ohio Environmental Protection Agency grant for removal of an old industrial dam in the Mahoning River and some 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment behind it, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni has announced.

The state senator from Boardman made the announcement Monday evening at a main library meeting of the Friends of the Mahoning River, an advocacy organization for the cleanup of the industrially polluted river.

The state agency ranked Lowellville’s application for removal of its First Street dam fourth among applications from 15 communities for river restoration projects, said village Mayor James Iudiciani.

The state agency, which is accepting public comments until March 18, will award four grants totaling $10 million statewide under its Water Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program.

“It’s a very heartfelt announcement because this is a start to what all of you want,” Schiavoni, D-33rd, told the audience of about 60.

Schiavoni said he’s asking local businesses, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and residents to write letters to the state agency in support of the Lowellville project.

Village officials will meet Wednesday with MS Consultants, a Youngs-town engineering consulting firm, to determine whetherthe $2.4 million will be sufficient for the project. If not, the village will try to raise additional money, Schiavoni said.

“It’s so much more than a step in the right direction. It’s something that we can finally put our finger on to say: ‘We’re moving this forward and we’re going to clean up this area,’” the state senator said.

“I couldn’t be happier for the Mahoning Valley and the river,” Iudiciani said. This dam removal should set the stage for removal of other industrial dams up river in Struthers, Campbell and Youngstown, he added.

Removing the dams would provide “a clean river that provides a lot better opportunities for recreation” and the economic benefit from it, said John Kwolek, OEPA district engineer and Friends member. Dam removal makes the river much safer for canoeists and kayakers, he added.

Iudiciani cited expert estimates that removing the dams could generate $30 million in annual economic activity for restaurants, canoe liveries and other businesses.


1glbtactivist(263 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Great. Here we go again spending my tax dollars to clean up after a cheap business. Those steel mill owners made millions in profits. Why aren't they paying for this cleanup? Then we hear that fracking poisons were dumped into the river too. The owner will stay rich, out of jail, and we will pay to clean up the river. V&M will do the same.

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2GeorgeinYoungstown(76 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The organization that preceded Friends of the Mahoning River - the Mahoning River Consortium - concluded in 2003 that US Army Corp of Engineers estimates of "$372,000 per dam," were "extra ordinarily great."

Their position paper goes on to state,

"Removal of small dams, such as those found on the Mahoning River, typically costs less than $50,000 (calculated from data in American Rivers4). The Jacoby Road Dam on the Little Miami River, Ohio was removed for about $10,000. The dam was 8 ft high; 100 ft long, and constructed from rebar reinforced concrete."

We're all familiar with inflation, but how that figure could have inflated in 10 yrs to the amount Sen. Schiavoni presented certainly, at the very least, is worth more investigation.


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3GeorgeinYoungstown(76 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Also, was there even a mention of the D&L spill at the meeting, or did Schiavoni's announcement effectively thwart any discussion of this issue, or the position the org should take on the overall question of fracking waste ending up in the River via "innovation treatment" technologies like Patriot water in Warren, Ohio?

Keep in mind, a 95% "success" rate of brine treatment could still potentially result in _ONE_ D&L "spill" into the River annually, if they're treating 50 million gallons (or more) of flowback per year.

I would urge the Friends of the Mahoning to take a strong stand against turning the River into a waste dump for the fossil fuel corporations, especially knowing our past history, and the efforts made by so many to remediate the damage since then.

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4PAborn(21 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Were any of the dam projects you mention even comparable to the Mahoning River dams? Did they have the same amount of contamination behind the dams that required removal and remediation, because that is the source of much of the cost. Compare apples to apples before condemning the project. The people of this community should rejoice that someone actually cares and is working toward making things better.

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5GeorgeinYoungstown(76 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The MRC finding was based on the Corp of Engineers study of the Mahoning River and the contamination sediment issue was factored in.

Even if you believe the high end estimate of nearly $400,000 per dam, that's still 1/6 of this grant. (I haven't calculated what the amount would be accounting for inflation over this 10yr period.)

No matter what the final figure is, the question becomes, should taxpayers have to pay for 100% of this, especially now that we know a company like D&L is partly responsible for the contamination of the River? How about seizing this company's assets to pay for the project, instead of the people who had nothing to do with it, or who have been trying to clean and restore the River with little or no funding?

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