Ohio’s environmental regulators are tracking a toxic blob under Lake Erie that is heading for Cleveland’s main source of drinking water.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release a report soon that is expected to show where the toxic sediment from pollutants dumped in Lake Erie 40 years ago is headed and whether Cleveland’s water supply is threatened.
The report is based on data compiled from a batch of new tests done on the lake bottom within a two-square-mile radius of Cleveland’s main drinking water intake pipe, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Wednesday.
The Ohio EPA official in charge of the Cleveland area, Kurt Princic, said there has been no evidence of toxic chemicals entering the city’s Nottingham Water Treatment Plant, but “we are still concerned,” he told the newspaper.
Stay abreast of the latest developments from nation’s capital and beyond with curated News Alerts from the Washington Examiner news desk and delivered to your inbox.
Sorry, there was a problem processing your email signup. Please try again later.
Thank you for signing up for Washington Examiner News Alerts. You should receive your first alert soon!
“Cleveland has been conducting more rigorous testing of its raw and finished water, and has consistently come in with no detection for these materials of concern,” Princic said.
He and Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler say it’s time for the federal government to provide assistance with more advanced tests. The Ohio EPA joined with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in petitioning the federal EPA for assistance in tracking the toxic threat, but the agency has not decided if it will help.
In June, the Ohio EPA conducted tests three miles offshore, as well as at eight and nine miles out, that showed increased levels of toxins in sediment at sites both nearest and furthest away from Cleveland’s water intake pipes, according to Princic. But all other sediment points in between were toxin-free.
The data appears to confirm previous findings that toxic chemicals dumped in the lake in the 1970s are migrating toward the city’s main intake pipe.
The Army Corps, which was responsible for dumping the toxic waste in the lake prior to enactment of national clean water laws, proposed to cover the toxic blob with a fresh layer of sediment. But Butler refused to accept the proposal as a real solution, saying the Army Corps action would target only the original dump site, while evidence shows the blob is moving.
Butler said the best solution is better testing to conclusively know whether the sediment is moving toward Cleveland’s drinking water.
“I’m no more satisfied now than I ever was that we have dispelled the fact that we have toxic sediment moving toward our drinking water,” Butler said. “We need conclusive evidence. We need more samples so that we will know, once and for all, whether this substance is moving.”
His agency expects the new study on the whereabouts of the toxic blob to be released this fall.