The land where one of Vernay’s facilities stood is now marked as private property. KARA DRISCOLL/STAFF

This Yellow Springs site is contaminated. Here’s the plan to clean it up

A company credited with helping to establish the village of Yellow Springs has submitted plans to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the pollutants in the ground where it once operated.

The EPA met with village officials and held a public hearing this week on the plans to remediate the Vernay Laboratories property, 875 Dayton St.

Vernay opened for business on the 10-acre property in Yellow Springs in the mid-20th century and continued operating until 2005. The company manufactured rubber components for various industries. The buildings were torn down in 2009 after contaminants were found in the soil and groundwater, according to the EPA.

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About 100 people attended the public hearing, and many people are concerned about the hazards posed by the contaminants, said Marianne MacQueen, village council vice president.

“Vernay was a foundational business in Yellow Springs for half a century. It employed a lot of local residents during that time,” MacQueen said.

Testing of groundwater in the late 1990s revealed the presence of volatile organic compounds, and samples from storm sewers and sediments from a nearby creek revealed low levels of the same chemicals, according to the EPA.

Vernay has since installed wells to pump the water out from under the ground, run it through a carbon-based filter and send it into the village’s wastewater system.

Yellow Springs Village Manager Josue Salmeron said the remediation project is scheduled to be completed by 2046. He said there are three main components to Vernay’s plan, pending EPA approval: Continue pumping and treating the underground water; excavate and remove the soil; and redirect storm water runoff to reduce how much surface water seeps through the property.

“We’re trying to do our best … We have a responsibility to deliver clean drinking water to people,” Salmeron said

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Salmeron said the village owns and manages sewer and water lines on the property, some that are 30 years old.

“The question is not whether our pipes are going to break, it’s when they break,” he said. “When they break, you’ve got to act quickly and manage whatever intrusion happens in the pipes. There’s a vacuum affect.”

MacQueen said she wants to see the pollutants cleaned up to eliminate any risk to the village water system and people’s health. She also wants to re-establish a relationship with Vernay, which grew and opened locations in other parts of the country.

“It’s important to re-establish a positive relationship with the company,” she said. “They’ve made significant contributions to the village, but they’re not doing business here any longer.”

The EPA is expected to issue a final report on Vernay’s plans next year.

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