In 1940, John Krejci opened a
small Cuyahoga Valley junkyard, a place where trash
could be burned and scrap metal dumped.
But the junkyard secretly became much more than that.
For many years, industries turned to the
site off Hines Hill Road in northern Summit County when
they wanted to dispose of hazardous chemicals.
That toxic truth came out in 1986, after the land had
become part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreational
Area. Since then, nearly $30 million has been spent to
clean up two tracts, totaling 47 acres, within the park.
Now the federal government has devised a new plan to
complete the cleanup. And the price tag to remove large
amounts of contaminated soils and debris is another $30
The Krejci dump has -- at $60 million -- become the
site of the costliest cleanup within the federal park
system, said Shawn Mulligan, an attorney with the
National Park Service.
His agency will hold a public hearing on its
new cleanup plan at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 in the park's Happy
Days Visitor Center off state Route 303 in Boston
Heights. It is also accepting public comment on the plan
until Jan. 11.
The park service and the Ohio Environmental
Protection Agency will then make a final decision on how
The recommended option is ``a very protective
remedy,'' Mulligan said.
Cleanup planThe federal plan
calls for removal of the contaminated soil, under park
service supervision. The work would be paid for by
the Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.,
companies that have admitted dumping at the site. The
work would be done by a contractor hired by the two
The cleanup could begin late next year or in early
2003 and could take up to three years to complete,
``It (the site) will be fully remediated and
restored,'' he said.
In one area of the old dump, up to 18 inches of
contaminated soil would be removed; in the other area,
up to 6 inches of soil would be taken off.
There are slopes in the area blanketed with thick
layers of foundry slag and deep ravines filled with
trash and contaminated soils. Nearly 51,000 cubic yards
of debris and contaminated soil would be hauled away to
a hazardous-waste landfill for disposal.
The site would then be regraded with topsoil and
planted with vegetation.
The contaminated soils at the old dump are laced with
an array of toxic chemicals, including polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins-furans, benzene, arsenic,
aldrin and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. There are high
levels of toxic heavy metals, including lead, selenium,
copper, aluminum and iron.
This cleanup option was selected by park and EPA
officials over five other alternatives, ranging from
taking no action to covering the sites with clay and
synthetic caps to treating the contaminated soil to
removing the toxic chemicals.
The options ranged in price as high as $57.5 million
to treat most of the contaminated soil.
The Krejci property is being cleaned up largely
because of the threat it poses to mammals, birds and
fish, not people.
Under federal law, such toxic waste dumps must be
cleaned up if they are a threat to human health or the
environment. The Krejci site qualifies as an
environmental threat, Mulligan said.
The site has 14 separate areas of contamination,
which pose little risk to ground water in the area.
Chemicals, however, could wash into streams and threaten
The contamination could pose ``a potential
significant impact'' to the environment, the park
service said in assessing the risk.
A legal battle has been waged over the first $30
million phase of the Krejci cleanup. That fight will
continue this week before U.S. District Judge David Dowd
Cleanup costsOne firm
that dumped at the site, Minnesota Mining and
Manufacturing Co. (3M), has been ordered by Dowd to pay
nearly $24 million plus back interest to cover past
Five other companies -- Chrysler, Waste Management,
Kewanee Industries Inc., Chevron USA Inc. and Federal
Metals -- had earlier agreed to pay nearly $4.8 million
Those agreements must still be approved by Dowd.
However, 3M has filed counterclaims, alleging that
the National Park Service should share in the cleanup
costs and that the federal government should have gotten
more money from the other polluters.
In 1987, the cost of cleaning up the Krecji dump was
estimated at $7 million. That price rose after testing
showed the contamination to be more severe than had been
thought, Mulligan said.
``No one really knew until it was fully
investigated,'' he said.
The Krejci (pronounced Cretch-ee) dump looks
like other meadows and woods in the Cuyahoga Valley. The
only things that make it stand out are the fences and
The dump is located on both sides of Interstate 271
in Boston and Northfield Center townships. Nearby
streams include Brandywine Creek, a Cuyahoga River
tributary and Stanford Run.
The Krecji site covers 42 acres north of I-271, of
which 19 acres were used for dumping. The other tract
covers 192 acres, with dumping on 28 acres.
Park officials had no idea they were buying a
toxic-waste dump after the park was created in 1974.
They thought they were simply buying an old junkyard.
The dump was closed in the 1960s, but Krejci's
salvage operations continued until 1985.
In 1986, a resident complained of becoming ill after
collecting bottles on the site. Park rangers complained
of chemical odors, rashes and headaches.
A U.S. EPA inspection revealed 5,000 leaking drums
filled with solvents, paint wastes, industrial sludges
Testing and cleanup of the surface materials began in
1987. The barrels and contaminated scrap, along with 700
tons of contaminated soils, have been removed under the
supervision of the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The site has received relatively little public
attention, largely because no contamination has leaked
off-site or affected neighbors, officials said.
In April 1997, the U.S. Justice Department sued to
recoup cleanup costs from the companies it had
identified as the major polluters.
Bob Downing can be
reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org