WEST POINT - About a dozen citizens concerned about a proposed landfill in Madison Township near here held a brainstorming meeting on Tuesday night to discuss various questions they would like answered.
Of major concern of many in attendance was the intentions of Rosebud Mining Co., which has filed for a permit with the Environmental Protection Agency. Although the permit is for municipal solid waste, Rosebud has reportedly noted it intends to accept drill cuttings from the oil and gas industry.
Several in attendance were concerned about the levels of radioactive particles potentially in the materials. Drill mud contains hydrocarbons often a part of natural gases and other sources of energy.
Township trustees and the fiscal officer, Tiffany Chetock, went over some of the information they were recently told when they met with a representative from Rosebud. Chetock said they told them there will be a plastic liner and a leachate collection with groundwater monitoring wells. There also will be a system in place to monitor the radiation levels in the trucks as they arrive with the materials.
One man in attendance with a background in nuclear waste, George Kosko, pointed out when materials are compressed together the radioactivity can become intensified. Those in attendance began questioning what happens when one of the trucks arrives with a radiation level too high to put the materials in the landfill. Will it just sit by the side of the road until the company finds somewhere else to put it or until it has less radiation the next day?
They discussed if there will be a truck wash to clean the trucks after they have dumped their loads, but one resident, Doug Sanford, explained then there will also need to be something to catch the water from the truck wash.
"Think of a BB," Sanford said. "It never goes away. You can wash it from this point to that point. You wash it, but it's still as radioactive here as it was over there."
Additionally, questions tossed out included what is the half-life of the radiation of the materials, short or thousands of years? What happens if the company changes names or no longer operates? Who will be responsible for the landfill once it is full? Who will be responsible for checking the materials as it comes in to make certain what is actually going into the landfill? Who will oversee them, the local health department, the EPA or someone else?
Sanford questioned how well the EPA can be trusted to regulate landfills when the EPA is funded by tipping fees collected from those same landfills.
Several times residents brought up the nearby A and L Salvage landfill, which was fined millions for violating regulations and was ordered to pay additional millions to help cover the closing of the landfill. Residents noted they did not want to see something like that happen again near West Point.
One resident, Chris Cinc, asked if it would be possible to force the company to report daily or weekly to the local papers about the amount of radiation coming into the landfill. He was also concerned about how the landfill will affect Beaver Creek, which is connected to that area by at least one smaller creek. It was additionally pointed out Hellbender Bluff, a park with an endangered species of salamander, is nearby.
Residents also talked about underground mines in the area, requesting that anyone with maps of those or knowledge about them should attend their next meeting.
The group plans to get together again at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 28, after researching some of their concerns. Trustees were asked to invite others to the meeting, including county commissioners, members of the county health department, the Emergency Management Agency, the local fire department, the Beaver Local school board with the nearby Rogers Elementary and state representatives.
Trustee Mint Cook noted the trucks will not only pass through Madison Township, but also the surrounding townships.
"Columbiana County is going to become the radioactive dump for the drilling industry," Sanford said, adding those throughout the county should be concerned.
Before the permit will be issued there will be other public hearings. So far a meeting has been scheduled with the West Point Development Corp., a subsidiary of Rosebud, at the Days Inn on Sept. 3. Additionally, a hearing will be held at an undetermined date with the EPA.
Trustee Glenn Smith noted it is important residents come to those meetings with the company and the EPA with good, educated questions and bullet points.