Councilman: EPA says former dry cleaner’s vapor levels ‘not acceptable’

T-L Photo/SHELLEY HANSON BELLAIRE VILLAGE Council meets Thursday in its chambers, located on the second floor of the municipal building.

BELLAIRE — Village Council members learned Thursday a recent vapor intrusion study conducted downtown showed unacceptable levels of a chemical were found in a former dry cleaners building.

Councilman Michael Doyle said the Ohio EPA contacted the village and inquired as to whether it would be willing to take ownership of the building. It once housed a dry cleaning business that used chemicals that were apparently either spilled or dumped down drains for many decades.

He said the EPA said the vapor levels were not acceptable.

“They want us to take over that building. … It’s a liability,” Doyle said of the building.

Last year, the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agencies conducted groundwater and air testing in the village related to chemicals used at the dry cleaners, which has been closed for 20 years.

The agencies identified some sources of groundwater and air contamination in the village. The village’s drinking water, which comes from wells along the Ohio River, was determined safe to drink and not impacted.

The chemical was discovered when the village was in the process of drilling a new well for additional drinking water capacity. Trace amounts of the chemical were discovered during testing, and the Ohio EPA said the village could not use that new well. Ohio EPA traced the chemical back to one source –the former dry cleaner on Guernsey Street. After additional testing at the building, vapors were discovered inside.

The chemicals in question are much like radon — colorless and odorless and can be harmful. The EPA conducted testing at other buildings and some residences in the area of 32nd and 36th streets and Noble and Guernsey streets.

EPA officials could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

Doyle said he was glad the EPA was reaching out the village and keeping the lines of communication open regarding the study.

In other matters, a couple West Bellaire residents inquired as to when Second Avenue would be repaved. Mayor Vince DiFabrizio said he would call the contractor hired for the job, Cast & Baker of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, today and inform him about the fair weather expected in the next few days.

Also, Doyle said he recently received a new bid for roof work at the water treatment plant. He said the roof there continues to deteriorate and is leaking on people and equipment. He suggested the village seek a bank loan to cover the cost. He did not disclose the bid amount. Treasurer Tom Sable said the village asked the Bel-O-Mar Regional Council about possible funding sources or low-interest government loans for the project. If the agency said there is nothing available, the village could seek a regular bank loan. Sable did not know how long it would take Bel-O-Mar to inform the village.

In other matters, in his report to council, police Chief Richard “Dick” Flanagan said since the last meeting his officers made 32 arrests and gave nine citations. He noted new parking meters had been ordered, along with a new cruiser.

Regarding building codes matters, Flanagan said five more property owners’ driver’s licenses had been suspended because of their failure to either come to court or to comply with orders.

He said demolition of a blighted house on Monroe Street and another house on Highland Avenue would begin next week as part of the county Land Bank program.

Councilman Donny Maupin said he has received complaints from residents concerning heavy truck traffic on East 23rd Street. A man, who did not identify himself, chimed in and claimed the damage was being caused by trucks used in the oil and gas industry. DiFabrizio replied the village planned to have the road bonded, meaning heavy trucks would become responsible for damage they may cause.

Councilman Gay Lucci informed council that starting in January, village residents will be able to pay their utility bills online via the village’s website —

It was noted the council’s next regular meeting Dec. 20 was canceled, but a “sine die” meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Dec. 28 instead. It was noted during such a meeting, council conducts any last-minute, year-end business before the end of 2018.

Councilman Nikki Liberatore’s absence was excused by council. Village attorney Joseph Vavra also was absent.