Published November 18, 2011
The Vindicator has had a great partnership with staff and students at YSU who make up TheNewsOutlet.org.
It's a 3-year-old effort that's produced some unique and important stories for the Valley and especially for Youngstown.
This Sunday, we publish as vital and deep of a report as we've had, and it's about the Mahoning River — or what ex-Mayor Jay Williams calls the must underutilized asset in the Valley. I've had the chance to live near some cool midwest towns, and have seen great use of the riverways.
Rockford has the Rock River flowing through, and they have various events along several miles of its shores that aren't much wider or deeper than the Mahoning.
South Bend has the St. Joseph River, and one of the coolest things they did was create a whitewater rafting offering based off the river.
Even Fremont, Ohio has a decent waterfront offering. It's not the Rock or the St. Joe, but it's hospitable.
And then there is our Mahoning ...
I'll give you an excerpt of the Sunday story from here as a way to showcase for you the great read that awaits you on Sunday:
An excerpt of the story from Caitlin Cook of The NewsOutlet.org ...
... A river that was choked by pollutants for decades remains even further strangled by multigovernment finger-pointing.
Millions of dollars have been spent on suggestions. Little has been spent on action, however.
Despite years of conversation and study and promises of funding and support, the Mahoning is no closer to clean today than it was 30 years ago when companies stopped dumping pollutants into the tributary.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted a $500,000 study in 1999 and determined that regardless of how much the water quality improves over years, the Mahoning cannot be deemed restored until the miles of contaminated sediments are addressed.
The nine major steel mills along the Mahoning were Republic Steel Corp. Warren Plant; Republic Steel Niles Plant; U.S. Steel Corp. McDonald Works; Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co’s Brier Hill Works; U.S. Steel Corp. Ohio Works; Republic Steel Corp., Youngstown; Youngstown Sheet & Tube Campbell Works; and Sharon Steel Corp., Lowellville.
The U.S. EPA reported that the average net discharge from those nine steel plants exceeded 400,000 pounds per day of suspended solids, 70,000 pounds per day of oil and grease, 9,000 pounds per day of ammonia-nitrogen, 500 pounds per day of cyanide, 600 pounds per day of phenolics and 800 pounds per day of zinc.
For perspective, the million-gallon Monongahela River Ashland oil spill of 1988 was characterized as one of the most severe inland oil spills in the nation’s history, that same report said.
By comparison, however, the much smaller Mahoning River chronically received the equivalent of more than four Ashland oil spills every year for decades.
The contamination stems from years of long-idled steel and other industrial companies dumping waste into the river and using the water from the river to cool products they manufactured.
Although steel companies have long since shuttered their operations in the Valley, the toxic remnants they left have survived.
Read this complete story in Sunday's Vindicator, as well as a look into the experience of YSU staff who conduct tests on the water each month in hopes that one day, it will be a clean, healthy waterway.