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Neighbors, the health commissioner, and the mayor of Galion are just now finding out about asbestos that was discovered by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at on old manufacturing plant in 2010.
“They don’t let cities know if there’s asbestos in the city,” said Galion Mayor Tom O’Leary. It was last week when white signs on orange cones went up to warn Market Street neighbors, yet many state officials claimed they were aware of the asbestos discovery on February 11, 2010.
“This is the sort of thing slowing the progress on this town,” said Terry Gillam, who has lived across from the six-foot high and 100-foot long pile of debris. He has witnessed the neighborhood kids playing around it.
In 2009, the Eagle Crusher manufacturing plant was bought and demolished by Recycling Creations. Valuable scrap was removed and the pile was left behind at the corner of Market Street and Pershing Avenue.
According to Ohio EPA spokeswoman Dana Price, Eric Keith (owner of Recycling Creations) has a plan to remove the debris pile. He will treat all of the materials as asbestos-contaminated. One test from October of 2015 found no friable asbestos, but the February of 2010 one discovered a black tar material, which did contain asbestos. Friable asbestos is linked to health problems such as mesothelioma cancer.
A notice of intent to carry out these plans has not yet been filed. In 2010, Keith received a letter from the Ohio EPA, letting him know the demolition of the manufacturing site did not comply with regulation because he had not filed the same letter of intent prior to construction.
In fact, Keith owes Crawford County $7,773 in delinquent taxes on the property because he hasn’t paid since 2010. The Crawford County Prosecutor’s office has been informed, but has not been able to make progress on the case due to funding issues. The case was also referred in 2011, but Keith could not be found to serve him the notice of foreclosure proceedings.
City Building Inspector Bob Johnston knew about the 2010 asbestos discovery, but thought it was the Ohio EPA’s responsibility. He sent letters to Keith, but no official citations.
“I guess that’s my fault. I thought it was an asbestos issue. I’m following up from here on out,” said Johnston. “We will be doing something, but I’m not sure what.”
The City of Galion can’t do anything legally about the contamination, but Johnston can site Keith on the condition of the property.
City Health Commissioner Trish Factor said the Galion Health Department found out about the findings at the same time as the public. Her office “will gather information to determine what, if any, action needs to be taken.”