EPA cites Canfield car wash owner over illegal discharge
By JUSTIN DENNIS
The Ohio EPA has cited the owner of a carwash for discharging mud and soil from a nonpermitted drilling operation on his Cardinal Drive property into Sawmill Creek.
Anthony Chenault, a spokesman with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said Tuesday the agency issued a notice of violation to Canfield Touch-Free Car Wash, 44 Cardinal Drive. The sign outside the facility identifies it as Superior Car Wash.
Cardinal Joint Fire District, Mahoning County HazMat and Environmental Protection Agency responders worked Monday night to locate the source of the substance found in the creek behind Canfield High School earlier in the day. Residents living along South Briarcliff Drive reported at 3 p.m. Monday the stream had turned cloudy, HazMat Deputy Chief Adam Noble said.
Responders on Monday fanned out from the high school to locate the source of the contamination, and the search led them to the car wash Tuesday morning.
City Manager Wade Calhoun said the carwash owner had contracted to dig a water well on the property Monday, which produced sediment and other earthen debris that drained into an on-site storm sewer – but he didn’t have a permit to do it.
“The good news was there’s no chemicals, no substances,” Calhoun said, adding the slightly increased acidity levels reported in the stream Monday could have been raised naturally.
The owner, however, is facing two penalties from the city – for performing the drilling work without a permit and the illicit stormwater discharge – along with the EPA’s penalties, which have yet to be publicized in the violation notice.
The city’s fees will be 50 percent higher than the fees the owner would have paid for the permit. The city is also billing the owner for the man-hours spent by fire responders, Calhoun said.
“He blamed whoever was in charge of drilling the well – that they should have gotten the permits,” he said. “Ultimately, the property owner is responsible for that.”
The owner was set to begin the debris cleanup at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Calhoun said. The man had recently applied for demolition permits to tear down two of the carwash’s bays, he said. The new water well is intended to connect to the carwash’s waterlines, he said.
On Monday, fire responders flushed the stream and Canfield city public-works department workers vacuumed water from the stream and redirected it into a sanitary sewer to be filtered and treated. Responders also placed small hay bales to act as filter dams along the stream.