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EPA tests piles of ‘foam’ from strip mine

October 31, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - The state is investigating a foamy material bubbling up from strip-mined property in Center Township that is in the process of being reclaimed.

Mike Settles, a spokesman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said the agency has conducted preliminary tests that have ruled out any kind of chemical spill.

"We're not sure what it is but it's not chemically related ... It doesn't sound like a serious situation," he said.

The property is owned by Rosebud Mining and located south of Lisbon on state Route 164 at the intersection of Mattix Road. The OEPA was notified by the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency after passing motorists reported seeing piles of foam up to 10 feet high in some instances bubbling from the ground.

Edie Dillard, interim director of the county EMA, said Willie Brantingham visited the site but deferred to the OEPA after determining it was not the result of any accident. Brantingham is information coordinator for the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

Settles said the reclaimed property has been seeded and covered with lime, fertilizer and hay. The foam was bubbling up from the hillside and flowing into a stormwater discharge pond that eventually empties into the West Fork of the Little Beaver Creek after passing through wetlands.

As a precaution, the OEPA sealed off further discharge into the pond until they get the results back of tests performed by Rosebud. The OEPA also used an aeration device to break up the foam.

Although the OEPA is hesitant to offer any theories on what created the foam, Settles said their staff spoke with a neighboring farmer about what was going on.

"A local farmer said he's seen this before, when old hay has been used (for seeding). That's just speculation at this point. We'll know more when get the test results," he said.



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