Residents of Portsmouth may be eating chicken wings, drinking milk shakes, and watching movies on a toxic site without realizing it. Rumors began circulating about seven years ago that the ground under the Route 23 Viaduct site was toxic. Even though Portsmouth Mayor Bauer was among those circulating the rumors of contamination, the Ohio EPA (OEPA) did not test the soil or make any study of the Viaduct site.
But Wally Leedom, a Portsmouth resident and an editor of the Shawnee Sentinel, has been saying for years that the Viaduct is possibly toxic because he followed trucks that had been taking soil from the toxic New Boston Coke plant site and dumping it in the Viaduct area. “Can you remember about where the soil was dumped?” I asked him on
In view of the controversy over the Viaduct site and the potentially harmful long range consequences of toxic soil on humans, I am surprised that OEPA didn’t do at least a soil analysis of the Viaduct. Before theaters and restaurants were built and before many thousands of customers frequented the Viaduct, hundreds of them employees on a daily basis, OEPA could have put the rumors about contamination to rest by doing a soil analysis.
In my unprofessional opinion, it is not likely the Viaduct is contaminated, but considering the stakes involved, is “not likely” good enough? No one can say positively as of this date that the Viaduct property is not contaminated. Because of the rumors about toxicity that had circulated six or seven years ago and continue to circulate, I have avoided going on the Viaduct property ever since it was developed. I went to the movie theater for the first time last month, but until a soil analysis is done, I will continue to avoid it. Harmful effects of toxic chemicals often take years to reveal themselves in humans. Because of frequent exposure, longtime employees at the Viaduct will, unfortunately, probably be the first to discover if the area is toxic.
I think the Ohio EPA should rethink its previous decision not to test the soil, though now that most of the area is covered with asphalt it will not be easy to get a good sample. On Jan. 31, I emailed a letter to the office of Chris Korleski, the head of the Ohio EPA, requesting the soil at Route 23 Viaduct be tested.
The Portsmouth Daily Times is not doing any investigation of the Viaduct, as far as I know. That could be because Daily Times reporters risk their jobs investigating controversies and scandals that the over-privileged of
Whether or not the Viaduct is toxic chemically, and I repeat that I think it probably is not, it certainly is politically and financially toxic. Chief Horner concluded in his report, which is available on Teresa Mollette’s invaluable website (under "Investigations") the sale of the Viaduct property by the city to the developer Elmer Mullins was fraudulent. Horner thought there was probable cause that Mayor Bauer and Mullins had spread the toxicity rumor to discourage other bidders, making it possible for Mullins to obtain the property dirt cheap, at the minimum mandated price of $60,000. Very little has been done or written about the Viaduct Scam, which got lost in the shadow of the Marting Scam, but I will have more to say in blogs to follow.