Dealer releases pollution data
John C. Kuehner
The Plain Dealer
The Plain Dealer has agreed to release a confidential
environmental report that prompted Cleveland City Council
members to delay ratifying a deal for lakefront property.
Council members were miffed Monday night when city attorneys
said council could not see a report prepared for The Plain
Dealer when the newspaper sold 15 acres to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga
County Port Authority in 1998.
The report, the attorneys told council, could not be released
because it included a confidentiality clause. Council
then delayed a vote on a deal with the port authority.
But yesterday, the newspaper told the city's law director,
Subodh Chandra, and the port authority's lawyer, Dennis
Wilcox, that the company was waiving the confidentiality
The land, which sits along the southern bank of the old
channel of the Cuyahoga River, had been polluted over
the years. Council members were concerned about the level
of contamination. They did not want to acquire a piece
of land without knowing the extent of the pollution.
The site is part of a larger deal that the city is making
with the port authority to move some port facilities,
create two lakefront parks and open up other chunks of
the lakefront for public access and development.
Cleveland would get 9 acres of the riverside land for
a park. The port authority would keep 6 acres to continue
leasing it to Great Lakes Towing Co.
The land had been used for industrial purposes for at
least 90 years, according to the environmental report,
prepared in 1995 by Hull & Associates Inc. It's contaminated
with multiple chemicals, but only a few sampling areas
exceed levels allowed under state standards. The groundwater
had been contaminated with arsenic.
By restricting the use of groundwater and sealing the
few sampling areas that exceeded state standards, the
site could be reused by industry, the report said.
"Our attorney looked at it and determined it was
suitable for port purposes," said Geri Waters, the
port authority's spokeswoman.
But to use the land as a park would require additional
cleanup, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection
Agency, but it's unclear how much that cleanup would cost.
The Plain Dealer bought the land in 1964 as a possible
site for a new office building and printing plant. But
the newspaper decided that the land was too small and
instead leased it to various tenants.
One tenant, Chemical and Minerals Reclamation Inc., collected
and stored wastes, such as paints, grease, solvents and
resins. A fire erupted on the site in July 1980, and the
U.S. EPA and Coast Guard cleaned up the site.