EPA plan to deal with contaminants left at BG plant

Cooper Standard Automotive site on North Main Street, Bowling Green

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

The Ohio EPA has come up with a plan for dealing with contamination of an industrial site in Bowling Green. Later this month, the public will be asked to weigh in on the proposal.

A plan to address contamination at the Cooper Standard Automotive property in Bowling Green will be the subject of an Ohio EPA public meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m., at Ohio EPA’s Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green.

An EPA investigation of the site at 1175 N. Main St. showed that “the contamination poses unacceptable current and future human health and environmental risks based on direct contact with contaminated surface and subsurface soil, inhalation of contaminated soil and/or ground water via vapor intrusion, and direct contact with contaminated ground water.”

The contamination is believed to have occurred before Cooper Standard Automotive or Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. operated the site. However, the current owner is responsible for cleaning up the contaminant even if it did not create the problem, according to Dina Pierce, of the Ohio EPA.

Cooper Standard Automotive purchased the 25-acre site from Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. in 2004. The property had been used by Cooper Tire to manufacture rubber hoses and seals for the automotive industry. Other businesses used the site for manufacturing before Cooper Tire began operations.

Trichloroethylene (TCE), a common industrial solvent, is the primary contaminant being addressed by the plan. According to the EPA report, neither Cooper Tire nor Cooper Standard Automotive used TCE at the site.

The Cooper Standard Automotive plant currently employs about 370 people. Those employees are not at risk from the contamination, Pierce said.

“The indoor air monitoring results were below risk levels set to protect human life,” Pierce said on Thursday.

The site also does not pose a risk for neighboring properties, Pierce said. “No contamination is getting offsite in groundwater or air.”

The TCE contamination was discovered in 1986 during the removal of underground storage tanks that held xylene, which was used to degrease equipment. “That’s one of the leading contaminants we find in industrial sites,” Pierce said.

It is suspected the TCE release occurred prior to 1972 near an above ground storage tank used to hold the TCE.

Interim remedial action has already been taken to reduce TCE in soil and ground water on the site. The contaminated soil was not removed, but was treated with a chemical to neutralize the TCE, Pierce said. That measure reduced the contaminant mass in the soil and water by 90 percent, according to the EPA report.

“They took some action before this plan was made,” Pierce said.

Cooper Standard Automotive provided four alternatives for Ohio EPA to consider to prevent potential human exposure to the chemical.

The alternative selected by the EPA calls for the following to occur:

  • Limiting the property to industrial or commercial uses.
  • Prohibiting the use of ground water for any purpose other than sampling to monitor contamination.
  • Maintaining the asphalt parking lot as a cap over contaminated soil.
  • Installing a passive ventilation system.
  • Sampling of sub-slab soil gas and indoor air.

“The whole intent of these projects is to make sure human health is protected,” Pierce said.

During the Dec. 13 information session, Ohio EPA representatives will present details and answer questions about the preferred plan. During the hearing, which will immediately follow the information session, the public can submit comments for the record regarding the plan.

The preferred plan can be viewed online or at Ohio EPA’s Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green; call 419-352-8461 to make an appointment. A copy of the preferred plan also has been provided to the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St., Bowling Green.

Written comments on the preferred plan will be accepted at the hearing or may be emailed to ghassan.tafla@epa.ohio.gov or mailed to Ghassan Tafla, site coordinator, Ohio EPA, Northwest District Office, 347 N. Dunbridge Road, Bowling Green, OH 43402. Comments will be accepted until Dec. 20.

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