Ohio EPA considering application for pollutant discharge into Little Miami-East Fork

Irving Materials Inc. (dba: IMI Concrete) is seeking a pollutant discharge permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (O-EPA). IMI wants authorization to release concrete washout from their trucks and equipment into the Little Miami-East Fork river. IMI states on its application as much as 5000 gallons will be released every day.

Infographic on ph levels for animalsOn September 9, 2022, IMI Concrete applied to O-EPA for permission to install a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) at the firm’s ready mix concrete plant on East Fork in Miami Township, Clermont County. Issuing a permit will exempt IMI Concrete from following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) best practices for managing concrete truck washout water. US-EPA recommends gathering and containing washout water in leakproof containers to prevent caustic substances from reaching the soil and then migrating into ground water. US-EPA states 100% of wash water and solids should be recycled.

According to US-EPA “Concrete washout water is a slurry containing toxic metals.” The heavy metal contaminants found in truck washout is extensive, it contains aluminum, barium, chromium, copper, magnesium, selenium, and other metals. Washout is also caustic and corrosive, having a pH (level) near 12 (a pH value of 7 is neutral). High pH levels in water makes it alkaline, which in turn, threatens aquatic ecosystems. US-EPA considers 6.5 – 9.0 pH units as the safe range for maintaining freshwater habits, but as you can see from the agency’s infographic (right), several common freshwater species are threatened at much lower levels. The risk of ongoing exposure is dangerous to aquatic life. Streams with a constant high pH level will deplete fish of the naturally produced slime which protects gills, eyes, and scales. The result is death. High pH levels will also increase toxicity of other pollutants that are frequently found in waters, particularly with streams which border agricultural property.

The Little Miami, including East Fork, has been designated as a National and Ohio Scenic River. In fact, it is the first Ohio stream to receive this distinction. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources stated in a 2016 water quality report the waterway “supports rich and abundant aquatic life. More than 100 species of fish, 36 species of mussels, including five endangered species, and untold species of breeding birds reside in the river valley.” Exceptional water quality in the Little Miami also supports diverse populations of intolerant macroinvertebrates such as Dobson larvae, water penny beetles and many others.” Considering the obvious negative impact concrete washout residue has on streams and rivers, the Miami Group believes it would be a serious mistake for O-EPA to issue an NPDES permit to IMI at the Miami Township location.

Ohio EPA was accepting public comments on issuing the pollutant discharge permit from February 1st through February 14. Miami Group / Sierra Club of Ohio submitted comments opposing the permit authorization. At this point, no more comments are being accepted. The next step for O-EPA is to review all comments submitted and then issue a summary statement evaluating public response.

Upon receiving O-EPA’s notification, Miami Group Conservation Committee will update members and provide guidance on further action.

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