By JEFF PICKELL
It’s disconcerting that, during last Thursday’s Fayette village council meeting, representatives from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) were describing plans for a second round of chemical oxidation pilot testing that school officials didn’t even know about.
Board of education member David Brinegar said he was surprised to hear the news, and asked if the district had been notified of the new round of tests. Site coordinator Edward Onyia replied that notification is not one of his responsibilities.
Fair enough. But whose responsibility is it?
Rumors had been circulating for months that the first series of pilot tests had come back inconclusive, but village and school officials were privy to few details. This can pose an obvious obstacle when it comes to planning for the near future.
Those who hold the monopoly on knowledge—Philip Services and the OEPA—aren’t keen on sharing what they know, it seems, until they are absolutely forced to. This may, by law, be their right, but in the meantime, village and school policy makers are left in the dark, as is the community as a whole.
Something seems wrong about this. The village and the school district, the two entities affected most by the Fayette Tubular Products contamination, are not only excluded from the discussion, but left uninformed of the very nature of it. At what point did they get lost in the mix?
The village and the school rely on Philip and the OEPA for information, but they shouldn’t have to beg for it, and they shouldn’t be kept waiting. Granted, reports take time to compile and time to read, but officials from Philip Services knew the pilot tests weren’t going as well as expected in late November. Why has it taken nearly two months to inform the community that another round of tests is being considered, let alone planned for?
With the impending school relocation, the village is at a point where it is going to have to start making decisions concerning the north part of town. Good decisions will entail knowing the state of the contamination issue. Good knowledge, in this regard, depends on the timely cooperation of Philip Services and the OEPA.– February 1, 2006