Adjust Mahoning River cleanup


Reading the article by Bob Whited on the coming cleanup of the Mahoning River in Lowellville raised several questions / concerns for me.

Upon returning to the area, I joined the Mahoning River Consortium. I did a good deal of research on the river cleanup project for the Mahoning River Educational Project and was enthusiastic about the prospect of a clean river.

My dad, a lifelong Valley resident, was less enthusiastic. He was convinced that the opportunity would be squandered and he would not live to see a clean and useable river. He died in 2011.

I have been out of the loop for a while. An update by the Trib and 33 News would be appreciated.

What I know: The cleanup of the Mahoning River was awarded $100 million in the late ’90s if there was a local share of 40 percent. The cleanup was to be done by the Army Corps of Engineers in four phases.

When I left the project, it was stuck at Phase 2. (Evidently – and please research this – those responsible for the mess are to be found and made to pay.)

Another issue was what to do with the toxins in the soil at the bottom of the river and in the banks. Remediating carbon-based material is practical but leaves behind toxic metals. Moreover, some engineers thought it best to cap the bottom with a concrete barrier.

While stuck in Phase 2, our country went to war and the Army Corps of Engineers went with the fighting forces. So, the needed skilled engineers have since then been busy elsewhere. Also, the Corps experienced an uptick in retirements leaving behind a dearth of skilled leaders who could take on this task.

It was believed by engineers and environmentalists alike that the cleanup should commence at the beginning and conclude at the ending. In other words, why start at Lowellville – which would risk re-contamination after the western areas were cleaned up?

So, where is the Army Corps of Engineers in this project: what phase, who is responsible and what is happening next?

As for the money, there has been little political or business will in getting behind this. This project has languished for lack of strong political and business leadership.

So, it seems that having a toxic stream flow in our midst is not such a good idea. But, neither is starting the clean-up at the end!

By the way, raw sewage didn’t stop flowing into the river in 1965 as the author suggests. It was found there much more recently. Ugh!

Leanne Turner