'The kids' help town develop new hope

'The kids' help town develop new hope

There are 4 comments on the The Indianapolis Star story from Oct 30, 2006, titled 'The kids' help town develop new hope. In it, The Indianapolis Star reports that:

In this quaint but economically stagnant college town 50 miles southwest of Cleveland, Ben Ezinga, Joshua Rosen and Naomi Sabel spent their first four years as typical college students, going to class, writing ...

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Mark Chesler

Cleveland, OH

#1 Nov 2, 2006
Sustainable Community Associates' Smoking Gunk (Pt.#1)

Ohio Department of Development CDBG Code of Federal Regulations Title 24 Part 58 brief (10/18/2006):

Poggemeyer Design Group’s anemic, cursory East College Street environmental review -- an obsequious recapitulation of the firm’s specious, sanitized May 2006 synopsis-- ignores significant, credible laboratory evidence of acute, unmitigated environmental contamination submitted by Sustainable Community Associates'(SCA) professional consultants and fails to comply with federal Housing and Urban Development due diligence standards for Community Development Block Grants (CDGG).

The radically elevated benzene levels -- "at only .0002 ppm below the regulatory limit" 1 -- registered by the sub rosa SCA monitoring well closest to Plum Creek, adjacent to the Oberlin Public Library, in the literal shadow of Oberlin College’s Firelands Dormitory, pose an unacceptable, endemic risk to public health. Disclosed to SCA principals in early January 2005, the corroborating minefield of damaging data was revealed to municipal officials on Armistice Day 2005, eleven months after a precipitous, jurisdictionally flawed, Ohio Bureau of Underground Storage Tanks perfunctory filing.

Moreover, following an intensive, multi-state hazardous waste investigation, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined, in a September 28, 2006, certified letter addressed to SCA president Josh Rosen, that SCA had violated Ohio Revised Code section 3734.02, subsections (E) and (F), by operating a hazardous waste facility without a permit. As the appropriate, responsible regulatory entity, Ohio EPA intends to conduct independent laboratory analysis of the soil and may require genuine "facility-wide cleanup."2

SCA was apprised more than two years ago of Ohio EPA’s rigorous hazardous waste mandates. SCA environmental consultant John Pardee’s incriminating September 16, 2004, ex post facto e-mail to Ohio EPA administrator Dan Sowry -- posted online by the EPA –- specifically manifests "reactive cyanide/sulfide"3 in a laundry list of lethal, carcinogenic compounds partially excavated and illicitly stored at 43 East College Street from mid-August to mid-November 2004. As Ohio EPA’s Dan Sowry contemporaneously reproached: "Your client would also be subject to the requirements for owners and operators of a permitted treatment, storage and disposal (TSD) facility. As an owner and operator of a TSD, your client is subject to the closure requirements of OAC rules 3745-55-10 through 3745-55-20 and corrective action requirements as detailed in OAC rule 3745-55-01."4 Navigating an elaborate vetting process, Ohio TSD hazardous waste application clearance typically spans two years. In his query, consultant John Pardee, an Oberlin News-Tribune columnist, failed to identify his clients or their contaminated site, postdated the toxic waste tank’s removal, and studiously ignored Mr. Sowry’s cogent, professional advice. Barred by bureaucratic fiat from pursuing the disturbing disclosure, the unsolicited communique left the veteran EPA administrator unnerved.

A week after a negligent, catastrophic solvent spill on the grounds of the former Schubert Buick dealership, SCA president Josh Rosen, an environmental studies major, coyly recorded in his copious, public Live Journal diary (August 23, 2004, 1:29 P.M.), "The tanks got pulled today. No problems from the EPA." Despite two Ohio EPA notices of large-scale environmental violations, SCA failed to file a 2004 Hazardous Waste Report until February 21, 2006 -- almost a year after the regulatory deadline5 -- just weeks after requesting an unorthodox, emergency tax increment package from the Oberlin City Council.

Oberlin Unmitigated Chemical Hazards:

Mark Chesler

Cleveland, OH

#2 Nov 2, 2006
Sustainable Community Associates' Smoking Gunk

Title 24 Part 58 brief (Pt.#2):

Proceedings of the International Collegium Ramazzini Conference on Benzene held in New York City November 3-4, 1983, and republished in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (May-June 1985) observed "the depression of bone marrow function, resulting in leukopenia"6 in longitudinal peer-reviewed studies of benzene exposed laboratory rats. The medical literature is rife with benzene associated human hematologic disorders including aplastic anemia and myelogenous type leukemia. Significant chromosone aberrations were observed in a preponderance of the studies.

Responding to alarming scientific data, in May 1977 the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an Emergency Temporary Standard that set maximum occupational benzene exposure limits at 1 ppm. Refined as a time-weighted average in February 1978, the revised standard was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1978 (IUD v. API, 581 F.2d 493). The Supreme Court ratified the judgment in 1980 (448 U.S. 607) and OSHA promulgated more stringent guidelines in the 1985 Federal Register. At the time, both Sweden and the former USSR mandated lower benzene exposure levels. Dr. Donald Huber, a benzene toxicologist since the 1930’s and author of the classic text, The Diseases of Occupations, 1955-1975, offers empirical evidence that "the safe concentration of benzene vapor…is zero parts per million." 7

On August 17, 2004, SCA president Josh Rosen was notified that SCA’s designated excavator had accidentally ruptured toxic underground storage tanks on the grounds of the former Schubert Buick dealership. As recorded in Josh’s online, public Live Journal diary:

" i have new sympathies for bush Yesterday at about 5 o'clock I get a phone call regarding an accident on the site which has the potential to cost us huge amounts of money and trouble. I sat silent once I got this news for about 7 minutes. All I could do was stare ahead blankly. I got a sudden urge to read a children's book like Bush did when he heard America was under attack. I couldn't find any Dr. Seuss in my mom's house so i settled for the Jewish Book of Why. I looked in the index for ‘geologist and city fucked up big time and are about to be sued by us’ and couldn't find anything."

Perhaps A.A. Milne’s fabled "bear of very little brain" had an aneurysm. Or the catatonic Bambi’s alkaline batteries inexplicably failed.

Oberlin Fire Chief Dennis Kirin’s August 25, 2004, e-mail to Oberlin City Manager Rob DiSpirito and Oberlin Planning Director Gary Boyle cited "considerable contamination"8 based on reports by SCA’s retained excavator. Pictures of the ruptured stoddard tank reveal jagged, gaping punctures. Consultant Pardee’s "due diligence" report, submitted to municipal officials, catalogues pervasive, pungent petrochemical staining of subsurface soils.9 Yet, parroting initial contractor claims after the August 16, 2004, cataclysmic accident, Chief Kirin retrospectively concluded only 15- 20 gallons of stoddard solvent had seeped out.10 Ohio’s Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR) regulatory spill review apparatus is triggered at leakage of 25 gallons. Perhaps, as noted in BUSTR’s closure report on Oberlin’s former Siegel/Guess property’s June 19, 2002, bootlegged orphan tank excavation (BUSTR # 47010106-P00001), the flummoxed "local FD may have confused situation."11

Oberlin Unmitigated Chemical Hazards:

Mark Chesler

Cleveland, OH

#4 Nov 2, 2006
Sustainable Community Associates' Smoking Gunk

Title 24 Part 58 brief (Pt.#3):

Chief Kirin derives a modicum of comfort from the absence of recorded benzene readings at three of the four 43 East College Street monitoring stations. Since the designated canary wells were installed at higher topographical levels, upstream from the perforated tank, the dichotomy is not surprising.12 While SCA’s principals may have shaved a medley of regulatory corners, concentrated petrochemical solvents are unlikely to defy the immutable laws of physics. Additionally, a scientific axiom articulated by the late Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan holds "the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."13 The incidence of benzene at a whisker (.0002 ppm.) below the regulatory limit in SCA’s compromised well #4 should induce high-level, forensic scrutiny.

Earth Consulting’s elaborate October 26, 2002, Phase II environmental assessment of the 43 East College Street property concluded, "Arsenic is present in soil samples from all areas of the site at elevated levels. The source of this arsenic is unknown and given the widespread nature of the arsenic, it is likely from an off-site source."14 Three years later, in an eleventh hour private memo to Oberlin City Manager Rob DiSpirito, SCA’s tin-eared environmental consultant, John Pardee, discounted persistent, detectable "low levels of arsenic in the soil," suggesting the summer ‘04 Oberlin host to a number of improvised, grungy, heavy-metal, beer drenched, downtown rock concerts might harbor "naturally occurring" organic toxin. But in a tacit concession of decades-old industrial indiscretions, Mr. Pardee ruefully acknowledged: "The former presence of a photography studio and darkroom at 49 East College Street suggests the possibility that photograph development chemicals were poured down the sanitary sewer drain. The possibility of contamination of the sanitary sewer pipe and immediately surrounding soils should be assessed."15

Pogemeyer Design Group’s gross ineptitude is revealed in an astonishing April 11, 2006, letter addressed to Ohio Historic Preservation Office’s Mark Epstein. According to Poggemeyer planner Sarah Sitterle, "two derelict structures, located at 49 and 55 East College will be demolished in preparation for the SCA development. No public funds will be used in these demolitions."16 For almost five decades the antebellum nineteenth century residence and medical office of Oberlin’s first black doctor, the classic Greek Revival 49 East College Street edifice added an appurtenance after World War II occupied by a thriving, recently displaced, dry cleaner. Originally targeted for destruction utilizing CDBG funds, the current grant incarnation seeks to tap CDBG monies to cover 85% of the tab ascribed to the demolition of the popular 55 East College Street Rax eatery shuttered by SCA.17 Bowling-Green based Poggemeyer is clearly sorely out of touch and assuredly oblivious and out to (a federally subsidized) lunch.

Oberlin Unmitigated Chemical Hazards:

Mark Chesler

Cleveland, OH

#5 Nov 2, 2006
Sustainable Community Associates' Smoking Gunk

Title 24, Part 58 brief (Pt.#4):

The proverbial embodiment of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s "shell game without a pea," Sustainable Community Associates’(SCA) indolent principals have flouted a cornucopia of environmental statutes redolent of New England’s deep-sixed Dickey-Lincoln dam. In a November 9, 2005, Cleveland Scene article, SCA’s pedigreed officers professed to be toiling for the nominal wages of non-union janitors. According to United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department records obtained under a federal Freedom of Information Act request, these impoverished custodians have received $39,500 in HUD EDI remuneration billed at the rate of $75@ hr.18 It’s time these gentrified janitors cleaned up their unpolished act.

Charles Martin Hall may have anodized aluminum in a laboratory across the street but arsenic-laced lattes and benzene inhalation are still widely considered to be an acquired taste. Untreated, this chemical permeated wasteland is unfit for habitation. The federal government and the Ohio Department of Development should turn green around the gills reviewing SCA’s (Saturated with Cyanide and Arsenic) disingenuous, hazardous Downtown Revitalization Grant request.

Mark Chesler
Oberlin, Ohio

1 Dennis Kirin e-mail to Oberlin City Manager Rob Dispirito, 11/17/2005.
2 Ohio EPA certified letter to Josh Rosen, SCA, 9/28/2006.
3 John Pardee e-mail to Dan Sowry, Division of Hazardous Waste Management, Ohio EPA, 9/16/2004: cache:1caqdDY3tf8J:www.epa.sta te.oh.us/dhwm/searchdocs/jpard ee_9.20.04.pdf+john+pardee,+oh io&hl=en&gl=us&ct= clnk&cd=9.
4 Dan Sowry e-mail to John Pardee, J.P.I., Inc., 9/20/2004. Ibid.
5 Tammy Heffelfinger, Division of Hazardous Waste Management, Ohio EPA letters to Ben Ezinga & Facility Manager, Sustainable Community Associates, 12/13/2005, 1/27/2006 & 3/15/2006.
6 American Journal of Industrial Medicine (Vol. 7, No. V-Vl,1985); Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Benzene (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Environmental Health, National Toxicological Program, 1986), TR-289, p. 26.
7 Graham, John, In Search of Safety (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,, 1988), p. 117.
8 Dennis Kirin e-mail to Rob DiSpirito, 8/25/2004.
9 John Pardee, Due Diligence Closure Report, 43 East College St., Oberlin, Ohio (Amherst, Ohio: J.P., Inc., 1/4/2005).
10 Kirin e-mail to Rob DiSpirito, 8/17/2004.
11 Steve Krichbaum, Release Prevention Supervisor,"Field inspection report #47010106-P00001" (Reynoldsburg, Ohio: Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations, State of Ohio, 2/27/2003):
https://www.com.state.oh.us/sfm/bustr/PublicI... .
12 Earth Consulting Ltd., Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, 43 East College St., Oberlin, Ohio (Euclid, Ohio: Earth Consulting, Ltd., 10/26/2002), figure #3.
13 Fripp, John and Deborah Fripp, eds., Speaking of Science: Notable Quotes on Science, Engineering and the Environment (Eagle Rock, VA: LLH Technology, 2000), p. 33.
14 Earth Consulting, Ltd., Phase II ESA, p. 20.
15 John Pardee memo & report to Rob DiSpirito, 11/11/2005. See Section VIII, Task 6: "Arsenic in Soil."
16 Sarah Sitterle letter to Mark Epstein, Ohio Historic Preservation Office, 4/11/2006.
17 All American Demolition Corporation, Amherst, Ohio, 2/17/2003 HUD EDI budgeted bid.
18 Ben Ezinga SCA invoice, 5/1/2005.

Oberlin Unmitigated Chemical Hazards:


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