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Lorain accepts $15 million Black River cleanup grant


LORAIN — A $15 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was approved at City Council’s Monday meeting.

The money is for ongoing efforts to clean up the Black River, which was designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern in 1984 due to steel mill pollution. The other Ohio areas of concern are the Ashtabula, Cuyahoga and Maumee rivers.

Lorain has spent some $14 million in the past several years on cleanup. The $15 million will be spent on four projects over two years, involving pollution from steel mills on East 28th Street, according to Council documents.

They are:

  • An $8.9 million collection cell for brick waste, oil drum cleanup and storage and collection of wet slag, which is metallic ore residue from the mills.
  • A $2.7 million cleanup of recycled slag.
  • About $2 million for a new treatment system for collection of oil.
  • About $1.45 million for cleanup of demolition debris and unrecycled slag as well as restoration of 650 feet of in-stream habitat restoration.

Mayor Chase Ritenauer congratulated Kathryn Hoffman, a stormwater manager in the Engineering Department, and other department members for obtaining the money.

“We’re really going to be able to make an impact,” he said. “This is a very, very good thing for the city.”

Hoffman, who was applauded by Council members and the audience, said after the meeting that much of the cleanup will be done by DER III. DER is the contractor hired in September to recycle steel byproducts from the former RTI steel mill, a 300-acre site on East 28th Street. Last year, Lorain received about $725,000 in recycling money.

Hoffman said much of the pollution was dumped legally before the federal Clean Water Act and other stricter environmental laws were in effect.

“We’re left with environmental degradation that’s extremely expensive to clean up,” she said. “So we’re very fortunate that the EPA sees the benefit of these projects to our river.”

In other business

City Council approved making Lorain’s second annual motor vehicle license tax permanent. The first was approved as a permanent tax in 1988. The second was approved in 2010 as a temporary five-year tax that took effect in 2011 and would have expired Dec. 31.

The taxes each raise about $240,000 annually, Auditor Ron Mantini said. The money is used for road improvements and maintenance.=

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