YOUNGSTOWN: Lauren Schroeder looks into the waters he has studied his whole life and says he thought the days of illegal dumping into the Mahoning River were over.
After news broke of the illegal dumping of 20,000 gallons of crude oil and brine into a storm drain that empties into the Mahoning, Schroeder went to the area where Mill Creek joins the river to survey the damage.
“The intentional dumping is just a tragedy for the river quality and the future of the river,” he said.
The site is about a mile or so downstream from the industrial property where D&L Energy Group and others operate along the banks of the Mahoning.
State officials are investigating the incident first reported this week.
Cleanup crews are working to remove what they can, but Schroeder said it’s too late.
“You’d have to pump out the whole flow, and it’s too late,” he said. “It would dissipate so quickly it’s virtually impossible to clean it up.”
Schroeder, a retired biology professor from Youngstown State University, has been monitoring the river water quality and said he was seeing improvement from the damage created by years of industrial waste and illegal dumping.
Schroeder doesn’t need investigators to tell him that the already polluted river has suffered yet another setback.
The salty-brine water believed to be a by-product of the gas drilling process called fracking will mesh together with current river water flowing downstream toward Pennsylvania, increasing the river’s overall salt levels, he said.
The Mahoning River has little or no chance of ever being clean without spending at least hundreds of millions of dollars, according to government environmental engineers. The river was polluted from years of dumping by steel mills.
In 1988, the Ohio Department of Health issued a contact ban for the lower 28 miles of river sediments and fish consumption.
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