Main Topics


I. Home

II. Environmental Threats in Ohio

III. Health Impacts

IV. The Regulatory Agencies

V. Prioritization of Environmental Risks

VI. The Disconnect

VII. Ensuring Participation

VIII. Resolving Environmental Disputes

IX. Conclusion

X. Citizens' Guide to Environmental Protection

XI. About the Green Environmental Coalition



A Handbook for Professionals Serving Socioeconomically Disadvantaged Communities:
• Educators
• Health Professionals
• Social Service Professionals


Produced by the Green
Environmental Coalition
in Association with The Ohio Environmental Education Fund








Environmental Threats



Because of the more than 1900 National Priorities List (NPL) sites and thousands of state-designated hazardous waste sites, communities around the nation are potentially exposed to a wide range of hazardous substances in air, soil, drinking water, and food. Nationwide, more than 14 million persons live within one mile of NPL sites--11% are under age 7, 12% are over age 64, 24% are women of childbearing age, and 25% are minorities. In addition to NPL and state-designated hazardous waste sites, there are numerous other sources of toxic chemical exposures, including industrial releases to the environment, unplanned releases from fixed facilities or transportation accidents, and abandoned industrial properties.


FOCUS ON OHIO

This section expands on the environmental issues described above by the ATSDR with examples unique to Ohio. Yet describing Ohio's current state of the environment is difficult at best—its issues defy simple explanation. We begin with the terrible legacy of our industrial revolution: statewide background contamination that represents actual and potential threats to Ohio's air and water (the ATSDR). Then we will examine the increasing, additional burdens produced by industry, transportation and Ohio's citizens.

Background Contamination

When the fledgling Ohio EPA's 230 employees first tackled the daunting task of cleaning up the state's environment in 1970, a blazing Cuyahoga River symbolized the state's environment, which ranked among the nation's worst. Prior to the early 1970's, hazardous waste disposal was minimally regulated. Wastes were dumped on the ground, into rivers, or left out in the open, leaving the state riddled with thousands of uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites at manufacturing facilities, processing plants, and landfills including:

  • 33 of today's federal Superfund sites on the NPL with releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.

  • 1192 sites on Ohio's 1997 Master Sites List (MSL) awaiting investigation or cleanup. According to the OEPA, these sites are "characterized by evidence of, or suspicion of hazardous waste contamination of air, water or soil with a confirmed or potential threat to human health" (Litigation has prompted the retirement of the MSL. The OEPA continues to monitor a similar list of 1800+ sites)."


    Ohio EPA list of contaminated sites - as of September 2000: Ohio EPA Contaminated Sites

  • 5,011 active, confirmed leaks as of April, 1999 of chemicals and petroleum from Ohio's 75,000-80,000 registered buried underground storage tanks (BUSTRs)

  • An unknown number of brownfields, abandoned, idled or under-used industrial and commercial sites where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. Estimates show that there are as many as 500,000 brownfield sites across the country. The majority of brownfield sites are located in poor and minority urban communities (US EPA).

    Region 5 Brownfield Site:
    http://www.epa.gov/R5Brownfields/htm/brownfld.htm

    View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
    US EPA What is a Brownfield?



    US EPA Brownfield Site:
    http://www.epa.gov/R5Brownfields/

    View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
    US EPA Comprehensive Brownfields.


  • Selected Superfund sites

    • Ohio maps of "Contaminated" sites

      Ohio National Priority List
      Ohio Superfund Sites

    • The DOE Mound Plant, Miamisburg. Remediation is ongoing for soil and water contaminated with chemicals and radionuclides from historic practices at the facility dating to the late 1940's. http://www.epa.gov/swerffrr/ffsite/moundpl.htm

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      DOE Mound Plant, Miamisburg.


    • Fernald Environmental Management Project. From this 1050-acre facility, uranium contamination of the groundwater aquifer flows from the site in a mile-long plume. Storage facilities contain plutonium. Site soil contaminants include radium.

  • Selected Brownfields
    • Dayton Electroplate. The most-recent owner of this abandoned facility, in operation since 1924, left conditions that the U.S. EPA determined to be an "imminent and substantial threat to human health and the environment." Tetrachloroethene along with one or more of four metals (arsenic, chromium, lead, and nickel) were detected in groundwater samples "at concentrations at or exceeding the U.S. EPA's maximum contaminant levels for drinking water."

    • Ohio EPA site for Dayton Electroplate http://swdoweb.epa.ohio.gov/dayton.electro.htm

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Ohio EPA - Dayton Electroplate.


  • Selected BUSTR Sites

  • Selected Landfills

    • Powell Road Landfill, Montgomery County, in operation from 1959 to 1984 for municipal waste, accepted hazardous waste from 1972-74 including ink waste, paint sludge, strontium chromate and benzidine. The landfill was placed on the US EPA's NPL in 1984 because of concerns about the type of waste accepted at the site and its potential impact on groundwater supplies.

    • Powell Road Landfill Public Health Assessment by the Ohio Department of Health: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/PHA/powell/pow_toc.html

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Powell Road Landfill Public Health Assessment by ODH.


Current Environmental Burdens

Today's environmental challenges differ from those of the 1970's. In many ways, the federal Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act have been a great success. Yet, according to the US EPA, the overall goal of clean and healthy air continues to elude much of the country. Unhealthy air pollution levels still plague virtually every major city in the United States. This is largely because development and urban sprawl have created new pollution sources and have contributed to a doubling of vehicle travel since 1970. Coupled with the impacts of development and sprawl, Ohio's steady industrial and corporate growth and the accompanying demand for energy further degrade the state's air quality.  Similarly, these forces potentially threaten the state's surface and ground water. The Ohio Comparative Risk Project categorized potential threats to drinking water at the tap—wastewater discharges, run-off, and chemical spills/accidental releases—
among the most serious risks to Ohioans.  For more information about air and water regulations:

"The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act" discusses sources of and agency regulations for air pollution.

Impacts of Industrial Growth

According to the 1998 TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) report, "Ohio continues to represent a significant portion of the national TRI reporting industries and releases."

  • Ohio, 35th in geographical size, ranked 1st nationwide in the number of TRI reporting facilities, 3rd in releases to the land on-site, 4th in releases to air and deep-well injection, and 9th in releases to the air.

  • 1676 Ohio manufacturing facilities reported (their own estimates) releases of 365,666,271 pounds of toxic waste in 1998 to the air, water, land.

  • An additional estimated 218,266,733 pounds of toxic waste were burned in on and off-site energy recovery.

  • The TRI lists only releases from manufacturing facilities; many non-manufacturing facilities also release toxic chemicals into the environment.

  • For a detailed summary about the 1998 TRI click on: http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/tri/98tri/ohio98.pdf

    View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
    Ohio EPA 1998 TRI data summary


  • Enter your zip code for environmental releases in your community at : http://www.scorecard.org

  • Click here for an Ohio county-by-county map of toxic releases:
    http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/tri/98map/ohio98.html

    View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
    Ohio EPA 1998 TRI data by county


  • Click here for a PDF version EPA 600+ list of chemicals subject to TRI reporting requirements: EPA Lists
  • Click here for EDF map of the United States showing facilities reporting on the 1997 TRI: EDF map of the United States
  • Click here for a comprehensive 1997 TRI report by Ohio County in PDF format: 1997 TRI report by Ohio County

Impacts of Corporate Growth

Ohio has also outranked the nation in number of new and expanded corporate facilities. Yet the Ohio Department of Development continues to actively welcome new corporations to Ohio. According to Governor Taft, "Ohio's strategic location, unmatched infrastructure and outstanding business climate make it a prime location for distribution and technical support centers."

  • Only 12 world nations have a Gross National Product larger than Ohio's $ 210 billion Gross State Product .
  • Six of America's top ten exporting companies, whose combined exports total more than $43 billion, have a major presence in Ohio.
  • Ohio's manufacturing output has increased 46% faster than the national average during the last ten years.
  • Two-thirds of North America's buying power is within a one-day truck delivery of Ohio.
  • Ohio has the fourth largest interstate system, 400 miles of navigable waterways, and 8 Lake Erie ports. Coupled with its prime location, the state represents a favored site for distribution centers.
  • In 1998, Dole Foods opened a 13-acre, $25 million vegetable manufacturing and distribution facility in Springfield, on I-70 west of Columbus. Steady streams of trucks roll in from California, leaving Dole Products for major East coast markets.
  • In August 2000, Governor Taft announced the opening of a Kohls distribution facility in Butler County built to supply 306 stores in 25 states.
  • The Governor also announced the construction of an 160-acre Gap Inc.-Banana Republic East distribution center in Hamilton County designed to serve 350 Banana Republic stores.

For more information, visit the Ohio Department of Development at http://www.connectohio.com

View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
Ohio Department of Development - Connect Ohio

The environmental costs of a growing economy may be more than Ohio can afford to pay.  Ohio already has the 5th largest traffic volume among the states; the diesel trucks hauling goods to and from Ohio further compound significant auto emissions.

  • Vehicle miles traveled in Ohio

    • 1980: 71.7 billion miles/year
    • 1999: 93 billion miles/year

Many Ohio counties potentially exceed current Federal Clean Air limits. There were significantly more ozone action days in 1998 than in previous years, and even more in 1999 (21). Ozone Action Days are summer days when it appears likely that there is the threat of an exceedance of the ozone ambient air (clean air) standard. http://www.rapca.org/oz-act.htm

View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
RAPCA - Ozone Action Days

    Impacts of Increased Truck Traffic

    Diesel-powered trucks are exempt from the Ohio E-Check Programs in effect in parts of the state. Yet diesel exhaust presents a significant threat to human health.

    • The ultra-tiny particles in diesel exhaust are particularly dangerous; they act like a special delivery system that places them in deep lung tissue. The immune system takes months to clear them out, if at all.

    • More than 40 U.S. EPA listed hazardous air pollutants are found in diesel-fueled engine exhaust including the potential carcinogens arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, nickel, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

    • National Resources Defense Council report " Exhausted by Diesel: How America's Dependence on Diesel Engines Threatens Our Health"
      http://www.nrdc.org/air/transportation/ebd/ebdinx.asp

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      NRDC Report - Exhausted by Diesel

    Residents of Yellow Springs, a small village 5 miles east of I-675 and 7 miles south of I-70, counted trucks passing through the village. A multi-axle truck passed every 2-3 minutes during daylight hours and every 7.8 minutes at night. For more about the Yellow Springs truck study:
    http://www.greenlink.org/gec/trucks/trucks.html

    View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
    Yellow Springs truck study

    Impacts of Energy Consumption

    Industrial and corporate growth, along with increasing development and urban sprawl increase demands for electrical energy, which adds significant degradation to Ohio's air quality. The electric power industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Most of Ohio's 29 power plants, built before the Clean Air Act was amended in the late 1970s, have "grandfather" status and therefore exempt from new air pollution control requirements. With these 29 power plants, Ohio has one of the largest concentrations of coal-fired power plants in the world.

    • Ohio's plants produce nearly 9,000 tons of Sulfur Dioxide daily, almost twice as much as all the New England states, New York, and New Jersey combined.

    • Recent research indicates that sulfates and other fine particulates originating in Ohio can be carried far from their source to cause air pollution in Pennsylvania, New York, and New England (Environmental Defense Fund).

    • Primary pollutants—Nitrogen Oxides, Soot and smog-forming air pollution, Carbon Dioxide and other gases that cause global warming, and toxic Mercury—seriously threaten public health.

    • Power plant emissions are major contributors to ground level ozone or smog, which can decrease lung function, particularly in children.

    • "U.S. Government Sues Power Plants to Clear Dirty Air"
      http://ens.lycos.com/ens/nov99/1999L-11-03-06.html

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      U.S. Government Sues Power Plants

    • Study: Filthy Air Shortens Lifespans
      http://www.cnn.com/EARTH/9605/09/deadly.dirty.air/

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Study: Filthy Air Shortens Lifespans

    • Clean Air Network: http://www.cleanair.net

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Clean Air Network

    Impacts of 11, 000,000 Consumers

    Today, with 11,000,00 residents, the state that ranks 35th in geographic size stands at 7th nationally for total population. While the numbers of Ohio corporations and industry continue to swell, Ohio's population has scarcely increased during the last 20 years; it gained only 1% from 1989 to 1990. Ohio's extensive system of roads and highways has encouraged urban sprawl and decreased population density. Urban sprawl brings decreased public transportation opportunities, resulting in low-density, auto-dependent development beyond the edge of service and employment areas.

    OHIO SPRAWL FACTS :

    • Ohio is home to two of America's worst sprawling cities: Cincinnati, #4 and Cleveland #13.

    • Between 1990 and 1996, Cincinnati's land area grew by 12% but its population only grew by 2%. 

    • In Cleveland the population density dropped 24 percent from 1990 to 1996, the sixth highest figure in the country.

    • The Columbus area grew the fastest, increasing from 142 to 344 square miles, a 141 percent changes from 1960 to 1990. 

    • The most dramatic decrease in population density occurred in Dayton, which dropped from 4,000 to 2,200 persons per square mile a 44% decline.

    • Between 1990 and 1996 population only rose by 3.5 percent while the land occupied by metropolitan Akron increased 65 percent.

    • The Ohio Department of Transportation reports  that "the largest increase in Medina County's population (37%) and largest decrease in Cuyahoga County's population (13%) occurred in the ten-year period following the opening of I-71."

    • Between 1990 and 1996, population density in the Akron area decreased by 37 percent, while the land occupied by metropolitan Akron increased 65 percent. The region's population rose only 3.5 percent in this six-year time period. The older urban and suburban areas are being left to decay.

    • Sources:
    • Sprawl's Dark Side http://www.sierraclub.org/chapters/oh/sprawl/
    • Sierra Club Sprawl Report http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report98/what.html

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Sierra Club Sprawl Report on Sprawl

    Automobile Impacts

    Sprawl forces an increase in driving necessary to meet basic needs (shopping, services) and increased travel time to work. Increased vehicle miles have offset gains made in auto efficiency, auto pollution control equipment, and emissions testing programs.

    • Cars (and trucks) are responsible for a large share of air pollution:

      • 81% of carbon monoxide

      • 36% of hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds

      • 49% of nitrogen oxides

      • 27% of particulate matter

    • In 1992,  there were 7,304,197 cars, with about 29 million tires registered in Ohio; only four other states had more registered vehicles.

    • The average suburban household owns 2.2 cars, generates 12 auto trips per day, and drives 31,300 miles per year. Only 18% of these trips are work-related.

    • Only 2% of Ohioans use public transportation to get to work.

    • Sprawl has increased the average length of the trip to work in Ohio:

      • 1977: 9.3 miles

      • 1983: 8.8

      • 1990: 10.9

    • In Cincinnati, the amount of time drivers spent in gridlock increased 200 percent between 1982 and 1994, the second biggest increase in the country.

    • Sources:
    • Sprawl's Dark Side http://www.sierraclub.org/chapters/oh/sprawl/
    • Sierra Club Sprawl Report http://www.sierraclub.org/sprawl/report98/what.html

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Sierra Club Sprawl Report on Sprawl

    Impacts on Surface Water

    Between 1959 and 1972, Ohio lost 4.3 million acres of farms to sprawl, a rate of more than 10,000 acres a month. Between 1974 and 1995, 90,000 acres were taken out of agricultural production in the five-county Akron/Canton area because of rapid development.  This urban sprawl ultimately impacts Ohio's watersheds.  As people migrate to the outer counties, highways are not the only resource that cannot keep up with the new demands; existing water and sewer systems are also proving to be inadequate. Sprawl further brings development and the construction of more rooftops, parking lots, and streets that create impervious surfaces that carry contaminated run-off into the surface waters.

    • Fertilizer, pesticides and other chemicals applied to lawns leach into waterways, groundwater and wetlands.

    • Parking lots covered with oil and antifreeze, roadways coated with exhaust pollutants, auto body rust, oil and grease all find their way into storm drains, which usually empty into the nearest waterway.

    • One million septic systems and pet wastes potentially threaten drinking water supplies with bacterial contamination.

    • Sediment and dust from improperly managed constructions sites combine with the erosion of stream beds to further damage local water bodies.

    Impacts on Drinking Water

    • In Ohio, drinking water comes from both surface water and ground water.  About 4.5 million Ohio residents (43%) depend on wells for domestic water.  The other 57% of Ohioans drink surface water, which include rivers, lakes and reservoirs. Ground water is pumped from wells that are drilled into aquifers, geologic formations that contain water. Both surface water and ground water sources are replenished by rain or melted snow that has either filled up a surface water body or seeped into the ground.

    • Water is generally the "ultimate sink". Contaminants from the air and on-land pollution activities will eventually move to the water.  Waste disposal activities, underground storage tank leaks, and spills are the dominant sources of ground water contamination in Ohio. Ohio's surface waters received nearly 10,000,000 pounds of toxic pollution in 1997, the latest year for which complete data exists. The Ohio River ranked as the fourth most polluted body of water in the nation.

    • Ohio's "Open for Business" policy has led to a proliferation of so-called factory farms and concentrated animal feeding lots.  These operations can have significant impacts on both surface and ground water.

    • Applying too much manure to farmland sends pollutants into rivers, streams, groundwater and air, which serves as yet another pathway to water.

    • The pollution from animal waste can harm waterways, human health and aquatic life. The primary pollutants of concern are nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), pathogens like bacteria and viruses, and heavy metals.

    • High levels of nitrogen leaching into drinking water supplies increases the risk of methemoglobinemia, or blue-baby syndrome, which can cause deaths in infants.

    • In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control linked the high nitrate levels in Indiana well water near feedlots to spontaneous abortions in humans. High nitrate levels may also foster the growth of harmful organisms like Pfiesteria. In humans, exposure to Pfiesteria toxins in the air or water can cause skin irritation, short term memory loss and other cognitive impairments.

    • The National Cancer Institute found a direct correlation between nitrates (which is a component of animal waste) in drinking water and cancer. 

    • NRDC Online America's Animal Factories http://www.igc.apc.org/nrdcpro/factor/aafinx.html

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      NRDC Online America's Animal Factories

    • Ohio's Sourcewater Assessment and Protection Program http://www.epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/pdu/swap.html

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Ohio EPA Sourcewater Assessment and Protection

    • Ground water migration from DAP, Dayton http://swdoweb.epa.state.oh.us/dap.htm

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Ground water migration from DAP, Dayton

    • Watersheds http://www.epa.gov/iwi/states/OH/

      View cached Adobe PDF of the web site at the time of publication:
      Watersheds in Ohio


    Other Impacts

    This is not an exhaustive review of the environmental threats facing our under-resourced communities. Some topics not covered include:

    • Waste disposal, including landfills, incinerators and deep-well injection

    • Nuclear waste disposal

    • Indoor air pollution

    Filthy Water Cannot Be Washed - West African Proverb

     



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    Cached documents copyright by their respective authors.




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    VIDEO

    ADOBE PDFs
    ATSDR Environmental Public Health Research Agenda 2002-2010

    US EPA What is a Brownfield

    US EPA Comprehensive Brownfields

    DOE Mound Plant, Miamisburg

    Ohio EPA - Dayton Electroplate

    Ohio EPA site for Navistar

    Powell Road Landfill Public Health Assessment by ODH

    US EPA Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act

    US EPA Summary of the Clean Water Act

    Map of Ohio TMDL Program

    Ohio EPA 1998 TRI data summary

    Ohio EPA 1998 TRI data by county

    EPA Lists

    1997 TRI report by Ohio County

    Ohio Department of Development - Connect Ohio

    RAPCA - Ozone Action Days

    NRDC Report - Exhausted by Diesel

    Yellow Springs truck study

    U.S. Government Sues Power Plants

    Study: Filthy Air Shortens Lifespans

    Clean Air Network

    Sierra Club Sprawl Report on Sprawl

    NRDC Online America's Animal Factories

    Ohio EPA Sourcewater Assessment and Protection

    Ground water migration from DAP, Dayton

    Ohio Watersheds


    INTERNET LINKS
    ATSDR Environmental Public Health Research Agenda 2002-2010

    US EPA What is a Brownfield

    US EPA Comprehensive Brownfields

    DOE Mound Plant, Miamisburg

    Ohio EPA - Dayton Electroplate

    Ohio EPA site for Navistar

    Powell Road Landfill Public Health Assessment by ODH

    US EPA Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act

    US EPA Summary of the Clean Water Act

    Map of Ohio TMDL Program

    Ohio EPA 1998 TRI data summary

    Ohio EPA 1998 TRI data by county

    Enter your zip code for environmental releases

    Ohio Department of Development - Connect Ohio

    RAPCA - Ozone Action Days

    NRDC Report - Exhausted by Diesel

    Yellow Springs truck study

    U.S. Government Sues Power Plants

    Study: Filthy Air Shortens Lifespans

    Clean Air Network

    Ohio Sierra Club Sprawl Report on Sprawl

    National Sierra Club Sprawl Report on Sprawl

    NRDC Online America's Animal Factories

    Ohio EPA Sourcewater Assessment and Protection

    Ground water migration from DAP, Dayton

    Ohio Watersheds