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Monday, April 14, 2008

City View: Hey, if the methane doesn't kill you, maybe the toxins will!

Posted By on Mon, Apr 14, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Tanks at the City View construction site are supposed to catch the toxic water as it drains out of the dump. But they can't catch it all.
The Plain Dealer carries a front-page story today about explosive methane levels beneath the parking lot of Garfield Heights' City View shopping center, a story that raises important questions about our recent trip to Fat Burger. In the story, the PD goes to great (and really weird) lengths to point out that the danger is in the parking lot but not the stores: ...
Lt. Dave McKee, who oversees the plaza for the city Fire Department, said an explosion wouldn't endanger people in stores and restaurants but could blow off manhole covers or pavement in the parking areas. "It's certainly something we're concerned about," McKee said last week. "The stores are safe on the inside, but we don't want anything happening on the outside."
Translation: Hey, you can still shop there, but you might want to teleport directly into Dick's, lest your Camry wind up a sensible and reliable fireworks show. What the story doesn't tackle is the other problem with building a shopping center on a garbage dump. Last year, Scene's Jared Klaus reported that said dump also doubled as a regular cancer factory for neighbors who live nearby. He wrote:
It wasn't until tens of millions of cubic feet of garbage had been dug up, countless steel pilings had been drilled down to bedrock, and foundations were being laid down, that the EPA decided it might be wise to conduct water tests -- five years after it approved the project. Construction had been messier than expected. McGill set up tanks to pump out the orange funk draining from the cupcake-like mound, but he couldn't catch it all. The ooze was running off the site. The Ohio EPA turned up the heat on McGill by fining him, but it's hard to plug a million holes at once. On November 8, 2005, EPA inspector Frank Zingales filled up jars with the red, bubbling muck. Co-worker Steve Tuckerman, who analyzed the results, was shocked. The levels of toxins were "among the highest in my experience of more than 20 years of evaluating water quality," Tuckerman wrote in a memo. "They indicate grossly polluted conditions." And, sure enough, tucked among the list of 10-syllable offenders was the monster of brain cancer, vinyl chloride. The results by themselves are damning. But Molholt suspects the levels are even higher under the surface, because vinyl chloride quickly evaporates when exposed to air. He says the residents of Murray and Fosdick were likely exposed to even greater amounts from breathing noxious fumes all those years. Just as scary was the fact that the neighborhood was still using well water while the dump was going full-swing. When the water started tasting funny, people would haul in jugs of tap water from outside the city, but they still showered, brushed their teeth, did laundry.
You can read Klaus' story, "Tomb With a View," here. In the meantime, no more Fat Burger for us. -- Joe P. Tone

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