Sanitation Company Agrees To Halt Operations That Polluted Vinton County Creek

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Faced with legal action by the state, a Vinton County company has agreed to clean up a creek it polluted and take steps to prevent future contamination.

Booms were placed in Raccoon Creek to help collect grease and sewage that migrated into the water from a nearby field used for dumping.
Booms were placed in Raccoon Creek to help collect grease and sewage that migrated into the water from a nearby field used for dumping. [Photo provided by Ohio Environmental Protection
Ohio’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against A2Z Sanitation three weeks ago after state environmental regulators said the company was not taking sufficient action to address the problem.

Last week, A2Z signed a consent order in which it agreed to do most of what the state was trying to force it to do through the lawsuit.

One of the terms is that the company stop accepting waste at its disposal site in New Plymouth in Vinton County until the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says it can resume operations.

A2Z, which is based in McArthur, offers several services, including septic tank cleaning, portable toilet rentals, and cleaning out grease traps at restaurants and other businesses that prepare food.

It was granted a permit in October 2019 to spread this waste on a 50-acre field along Route 328. The field is adjacent to Raccoon Creek.

The permit allowed the company to apply up to 1.25 million gallons of waste a year over the entire 50 acres. According to court documents, A2Z’s records show it accepted nearly double that amount from June 2020 to June 2021.

This liquid blend of sewage and grease seeped from the saturated field into the creek.

The waste turned the water red with bacterial contamination in some areas. Floating grease deposits were found eight miles downstream. The pollution depleted oxygen levels in parts of the creek, threatening fish and other aquatic life.

A2Z also has a large earthen basin on the site that is used to hold waste. The waste level was so close to the rim that state regulators were concerned it could overflow in heavy rains. The consent order requires A2Z to remove and haul away 50,000 gallons a week from the basin until the waste level is at least three feet below the rim.

A spokesperson from the Ohio EPA told WOUB Thursday that “Approximately 60 percent of application fields have been restored. Approximately 145,000 gallons have been removed from site and disposed of at an approved disposal facility. ”

“Storm water countermeasures have been implemented to contain storm water during the restoration. Additionally, maintenance of storm water controls are continuing in response to rain events (as needed).”

The order also requires the company to continue removing grease that has seeped into Raccoon Creek. Waste from the fields has also spilled into ditches on or around the field, and the company has to clean these out and keep them clean.

Continued restoration efforts on Raccoon are ongoing.