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Who's protecting the people?


Mark Seelig

Testimony before the U.S. EPA
November 13, 2001
Worthington, Ohio

Most citizens take for granted that public drinking water is safe to consume. We also expect our state and local governments to exercise adequate oversight of industries that utilize and dispose of hazardous or toxic compounds. In Ohio, and particularly in Urbana Ohio, that record of oversight is one of utter failure. As a result, both public and private sources of drinking water have suffered VOC and nitrate contamination.

Many of Urbana's industries have fouled one of the wold's most prolific sources of drinking water, the Mad River Aquifer. In 1995, Urbana's groundwater was discovered to contain VOC's as high as, 4,000 PPB but loopholes in the law have allowed the corporate polluter to escape responsibility for clean up. Many of Urbana's public wells either have been closed due to high nitrate levels or threatened with closure in the near future as the result of approaching plumes of VOC's. The same plumes have contaminated county wells with levels of VOC's 12 to 14 times the MCL.

No one knows how long these county residents have been consuming dangerously contaminated water. Nor does anyone in authority seem to care. Despite sporatic testing by the Ohio EPA for over a ten year period, no one yet has identified the sources of Urbana's groundwater contamination, nor the full extent of the plumes. It would appear that the pollution is moving faster than the Ohio EPA and our local government.

The Ohio EPA supports programs that are at odds with the goal of holding corporate polluters responsible for damaging the environment and public health. One of those programs, VAP, is another major factor contributing to Urbana's lack of progress. In some cases VAP has successfully exempted the industry from responsibilities that individuals and most municipalities must regularly uphold. As long as the industry can pollute with little risk of being held accountable, water quality degradation, at the hands of industry, will continue.

Ohio is ranked within the top 7 states for the greatest amount of toxic pollution and among the top 10 states in two categories:

  • For major facilities violating permits, and
  • For highest percentage of major facilities in significant non-compliance with clean water permits.
Despite existing laws and efforts by the Ohio EPA to curtail illegal dumping, industrial contamination is still occurring with brazen regularity.

We are in effect burdened with a government of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation. The EPA, both federal and state, appears to produce mere window covering, masking its failed environmental protection policies that have deceived the public with a false sense of security while giving industry relatively free rein.

Why are we wasting public money and destroying public confidence by funding impotent regulatory agencies? Please, provide the state and federal EPA both with the funding and regulatory code necessary to protect Ohio's citizens and future generations.

Mark Seelig
222 Laurel Oak Street
Urbana, Ohio 43078