Towne Square project could take off soon

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Xenia’s chase for the source of contamination at Xenia Towne Square may finally be over.

After months of testing and looking for answers as to why two chlorinated solvents were present on a section of the property, the city will be submitting “no further action” application materials to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency — which is likely to approve it according to city officials. That means redevelopment of the shopping center can begin at the former Kmart site.

The good news for the city comes after another round of testing for the source chemical vapors across the street and to the east led the EPA to the basement of a nearby business where an unsealed chemical solvent — tetrachloroethylene (PCE) — was stored. PCE is used in dry cleaning and appears in consumer products including paint strippers and spot removers.

“The substance has been properly stored or removed and we are told there are no safety issues from the OEPA’s perspective moving forward regarding this matter,” City Manager Brent Merriman told council in an email obtained by the Gazette.

There were also “below actionable levels” of PCE and trichloroethylene (TCE) at a nearby fast food restaurant.

“While generally good news, this also means the logical site we triangulated for point-source contamination does not in fact seem to be the culprit,” Merriman told council. “Frankly, we may never know where this has come from. Ironically this is still OK from the perspective of getting the NFA for our site; it provides further evidence that no specific point source can be identified.”

Merriman said there could be myriad sources of the contamination going all the way back to the 1974 tornado and the city and EPA wanted to confirm the contaminants weren’t just dumped at the site.

“We’ve been chasing it around,” he said.

The EPA has several weeks to review and render judgment on the application, but Merriman said city staff feels “somewhat positive” that the EPA will approve it and issue a Covenant Not to Sue — a legal document which releases the property owner of further liability to remediate the site for past issues as long as the property is used and maintained as prescribed in the covenant, according to EPA Media Coordinator Dina Pierce.

“We are positioned to fully be able to get something started,” Merriman said.

Brandicorp, the developer of the site, could be able to initiate its project, which calls for restaurants and retail shops, early to mid-summer depending on several factors including the permitting process, according to city officials.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.