Clermont County sues EPA over public records request for closed hazardous waste dump

Clermont County sues EPA over public records request for closed hazardous waste dump
Posted at 8:17 PM, Jun 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-12 20:17:17-04

BATAVIA, Ohio -- Clermont County officials are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over a public records request for information about a closed hazardous waste dump.

Millions of tons of hazardous material were buried at the CECOS International Facility off Aber Road in Williamsburg between the 1970s and '90s. The CECOS site is located upstream from Harsha Lake, which is used for drinking water, so county officials have spent decades following the site's upkeep and cleanup.

Hannah Lubbers, the project manager for the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality, filed a request with the EPA for information about the CECOS site in March of 2016. The request was filed under the Freedom of Information Act, which is the law that allows people to obtain records from the federal government.

The EPA responded with nearly 2,900 pages of documents, according to the lawsuit. However, the EPA withheld 60 documents they said fell under the Freedom of Information Act's exemptions, mostly because of attorney-client privilege.

County officials appealed the EPA's decision to withhold the documents. EPA officials later released three more documents and redacted versions of six others. Of the remaining 51, the EPA said 10 unable to be located, 11 were "non-responsive" and 20 were properly withheld. Ten others not accounted for in EPA response, according to the lawsuit.

CECOS, the county and EPA settled on a post-closure plan for the site in 2012. Lubbers said they filed the request because they try to be as thorough as possible in monitoring progress.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. district court in Cincinnati last week, Clermont County is asking for the EPA to find and produce all the requested non-exempt records.