Ohio Advocates Seek Constitutional Amendment

Ohio Advocates Seek Constitutional Amendment To Toughen Rules for Construction Landfills

CINCINNATI--Ohio landfills accepting construction and demolition debris
would have to follow the same environmental guidelines as other landfills
under a ballot initiative proposed by a citizen group.
The group, called R Lives Count Too, filed language for a constitutional
amendment Sept. 28 with the attorney general's office, the first step in
placing an issue on the state ballot.
The group hopes to get the landfill initiative, which would require waste
from man-made structures to be regulated the same as solid waste, before
voters in November 2006.
According to the group, state regulations governing construction and
demolition landfills are less stringent than those for other landfills,
and legislative attempts to remedy the problem have failed.
There are 69 construction and demolition debris landfills licensed to
operate in Ohio.
Construction wastes such as lead pipes, drywall, and asbestos pose a
significant threat to air, soil, and water quality, according to Debbie
Roth, president of Our Lives Count Inc. in Leavittsburg.
When drywall materials sit in a wet landfill, Roth said, hydrogen sulfide
is created and escapes into the environment. Despite the toxic threat,
these construction landfills do not have to meet the same standards as
solid waste landfills, she said.

Ohio Finds Unsafe Levels of Toxic Chemicals

An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency analysis of leachate from nine
construction and demolition debris landfills, released Sept. 27 through
the Ohio Environmental Council, found concentrations of toxic chemicals
exceeding safe drinking water standards.
Average concentration levels for several hazardous substances were much
higher than normal background levels in Ohio groundwater, the agency
found, noting arsenic at 36 times the average background level and cadmium
at 61 times the average background level.
The analysis was done for the Ohio General Assembly's Construction
Demolition Debris Study Council, which is examining ways to strengthen the
state's regulations governing these landfills.
Under current state law, construction and demolition debris may be placed
in landfills without protective liners and with minimal leachate
State officials have told lawmakers that construction and demolition
debris landfills are a growing problem in Ohio due in part to hydrogen
sulfide production, improper handling of asbestos materials, and the
acceptance of unrecognizable waste, most of which comes from out-of-state.

Construction Industry Opposes Regulations

Construction industry representatives told the legislative panel that this
type of waste is inert and that there is no scientific justification for
more stringent regulation.
Rep. John P. Hagan (R), a member of the landfill study council who plans
to sponsor a bill revising the state's applicable regulations, said the
ballot issue would not affect legislation being developed.
If the attorney general certifies the proposed amendment's language, the
Ohio secretary of state will verify whether the group can begin a petition
campaign. To get the issue on the ballot, R Lives Count Too will need to
collect 322,000 signatures by next August.

More information on the ballot initiative is available at

The Ohio EPA analysis is available at

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