County issues ban for septic haulers

STEUBENVILLE – Jefferson County commissioners say they aren’t sure why one sewage hauler is still being allowed to dump wastes at their sewage treatment plant, but they want the practice stopped.

After meeting behind closed doors for a half-hour Friday to discuss the situation with department personnel, commissioners passed a resolution banning all septic haulers from dumping wastes at the plant while they formulate an official policy.

Commissioner Tom Gentile said he thought they’d made their position clear in June when they’d learned that Miller Septic had been providing pumping services in exchange for dumping septic waste at the plant. Commissioners were told Miller had a verbal agreement with the department dating back to the 1990s.

A competitor wanted the same opportunity but was told the department would not allow it, prompting that company to write to the commissioners.

“I don’t believe in verbal agreements, I don’t do business that way,” Gentile said. “I left that meeting understanding this was going to stop.”

He said he’d confirmed the practice was continuing “with three different people” prior to the meeting.

“I want it to cease immediately while we continue to investigate why it hasn’t,” Gentile said.

Commissioner Dave Maple agreed, saying he’d thought “we gave a clear directive to the water-sewer department.” At Maple’s suggestion, the fair board was exempted from the ban.

In other business, commissioners asked that Airport Authority Secretary Gary Folden provide them with copies of all correspondence and documentation related to the removal of an underground storage tank at the airport in 1997 so they can determine how to proceed with a non-compliance finding from the Ohio Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations.

The county had contracted with James White Construction Co. to remove underground tanks throughout the county. The work was done, officials said, but the person who supervised the work is no longer with the company. BUSTR claims the supporting documents that should have been filed with their office were never submitted and has threatened to assess up to $10,000 a day in civil penalties.

Commissioners said they weren’t aware of the problem prior to Friday’s meeting and questioned why BUSTR’s concerns had been forwarded to them, since the letter was clearly addressed to the airport authority.

“Jefferson County Airpark had nothing to do with the airport authority,” authority member Geary Bates explained. “We saw no contract. All we knew was that they came in and took the tank.”

Bates said earlier correspondence had been relayed to the prosecutor’s office.

“I can’t tell you how many times since 1997″ the issue has come up,” he said. “We have no contract, no records. We had nothing to do with it.”

Bates said BUSTR wants them to take soil samples to ensure gas hadn’t leeched from the tank, “but (the area) has been blacktopped.”

“James White knows how to do this process, I can’t imagine them not knowing how to cross their Ts and dot their Is,” Gentile said, adding that if, in fact, the contractor had not submitted the required documents it would be up to them to finish the job. “But there’s a reasonably good chance all the reports were filed and BUSTR just can’t find them.”

Commissioner Tom Graham said it would “be nice to see a copy of the contract first,” and suggested sending a letter to BUSTR to make them aware they were looking into the issue.

“I don’t remember any BUSTR notices. I don’t know what we’re being asked to do,” Maple said, though he added he thinks “our risk is low, I think it’s just a matter of documenting it.”

“We don’t have a problem stepping in to correct it,” Gentile said, “but we’d like to have the info to review.”

Commissioners also agreed to ask the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to rent hangar space to non-aviation users temporarily, but suggested Folden draft a letter for their consideration. FAA requires airports benefiting from federal funding to rent to aviation users whenever possible.

Bates said the leases would contain a proviso that the space would be vacated immediately should someone need it for aviation purposes.

Also on the agenda:

– Commissioners approved payment of $4,126.50 due to Richland Engineering Ltd. for an update to the airport master plan. The county will get most of the money back via federal reimbursements.

Gentile said the work “should have been completed a year ago,” and said FAA deserves their thanks for being “very patient waiting for some of the work product.”

– The only bid submitted for sidewalk replacement in Adena, Rayland and Richmond was referred to Jefferson Regional Planning Commission for review and recommendations. James White had offered to do the Adena work for $52,795; Rayland, $43,392.50; and Richmond, $12,355.50.

The project had been bid previously, with the low bid coming in at roughly $98,000. The bid documents were incomplete, however.

– At the water and sewer district’s request, commissioners approved $27,195.57 in payments to Malcolm Pirnie.

– Commissioners approved nearly $76,000 in payments to Mike Pusateria Excavating, East Liverpool, for six building demolitions under the 2012 Attorney General Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Program.