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Analysis: Dust from dam project is health risk (Buckeye Lake)

Analysis: Dust from dam project is health risk (Buckeye Lake)

BUCKEYE LAKE – Dam project spokesperson Ian Nickey hand- delivered two Material Safety Data Sheets last Thursday to a North Bank resident who requested them earlier in the week.

The resident sought the OSHA-required documents after his physician asked about the dust that was irritating his eyes and skin. Other neighbors reported similar symptoms plus some respiratory problems.
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Portland cement, which is delivered in tractor-trailer bulk tankers, is the primary ingredient. Nickey called it “a common product that is no different than the product anyone can buy at a hardware store.”

The MSDS report supplied by its manufacturer, Cemex, states, “This material is considered hazardous by the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard…” The listed hazard statements are:

• Causes severe skin burns and eye damage;

• May cause an allergic skin reaction;

• Causes serious eye damage; and

• May cause cancer (Inhalation, Dermal).
Some construction-front residents have already seen the damage done to siding and vehicle finishes when splashed with the grout mixture (Portland cement, Premium Gel and water). It leaves a permanent mark.

Premium Gel is the material in the white super sacks that is mixed with Portland cement in the two cement bulk plants now positioned just a few feet away from homes. It’s MSDS from manufacturer Cetgo contains far less detail including listing one chemical as a “Trade Secret.” It is primary bentonite which Nicky says is also “known as powered clay.” Hazards are listed as “Not classified.”

However, under “recommended restrictions,” it states, “Workers (and your customers or users in the case of resale) should be informed of the potential presence of respirable dust and respirable crystalline silica as well as their potential hazards.”

OSHA lists the health effects of occupational exposure (very few people live as close to major construction projects as damfront residents do) as:

• Silicosis, a disabling, non-reversible and sometimes fatal lung disease;

•Other non-malignant respiratory diseases, such as chronic bronchitis;

• Lung cancer; and

•Kidney disease, including nephritis and end-stage renal disease.

So how is ODNR and its contractors protecting nearby residents from these potential health effects? It’s easier to tell you what they didn’t do.

Millions are being spent on this project which includes a lead engineering firm and contractor plus at least six subcontractors doing construction and engineering support activities. Some are national firms and all, according to ODNR, have been vetted. So how is it that they all overlooked the very basic requirement that the two bulk plants have Ohio EPA air permits.

That requirement was ignored or overlooked until a North Bank resident complained to Ohio EPA about the dust emissions. An inspector visited the site on April 19 and subsequently issued a Notice of Violation for “unpermitted installation and operation of air contaminant sources.” The operator of the two plants that serve the two auger soil mixers submitted an application on April 25 for a general permit for the two central ready mix concrete batch plants. It was issued April 26 and is good for 10 years.

Dust generated by the bulk plant operations comes three sources. Bulk tankers delivering Portland cement, forklifts handling the Premium Gel super sacks and other project vehicles stir up dust from the unpaved and untreated roadways. That situation appeared to be improving by mid-week as the roadways seemed to be treated (with water sprays) on a somewhat regular schedule. Nickey reported today that the project now has two water trucks operating seven days a week.

Each silo is topped with a smaller barrel-like bag filter which is supposed to capture any dust released when a silo is being filled. That system either failed or was bypassed around noon Monday when a bulk tanker apparently overfilled a silo sending a large plume of cement dust out the top of the silo that quickly drifted over nearby homes.

The third source is when the super sacks are dumped into an open bin (see the dust in both photos). An Ohio EPA spokesperson told The Beacon late last week that the “dust issue” can be addressed “by employing best management practices…such as minimizing the height from which the bags are emptied into the large vat for example.”

Bags were being lowered Monday, with no noticeable change in dust from observed last week. An apparent new procedure to shake almost empty bags above the bin created more dust Monday than seen last week.

Ohio EPA has not responded to our questions about adopting other best management practices such as using a fine water spray barrier during the emptying process.

ODNR’s spokesperson referred most of our questions to Nickey and vice versa.

“Public safety has and will remain a top priority with the dam at Buckeye Lake,” ODNR’s Matt Eiselstein wrote.

Photos byCharles Prince

Photos byCharles Prince









Photos byCharles Prince

Photos byCharles Prince










Source: The Buckeye Lake Beacon

By Charles Prince


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