What started as an annoying smell inside a Wal-Mart in Garfield Heights (a Cleveland suburb), Ohio that I jokingly blamed on the third burrito Harry in toys ate on break, has become a serious public health hazard for people walking from their cars to the front door. From The Cleveland Plain Dealer:
At City View Center, a big-box shopping plaza built on a dump, state inspectors have found explosive levels of methane gas in sewer basins under parking lots and in a nearby mound of dirt-covered garbage. Lt. Dave McKee, who oversees the plaza for the city Fire Department, said an explosion wouldn't endanger people in stores and restaurants but could blow off manhole covers or pavement in the parking areas. "It's certainly something we're concerned about," McKee said last week. "The stores are safe on the inside, but we don't want anything happening on the outside."
Kind of makes you think of the Green Zone, don't it? Dodging those exploding manhole covers and flames erupting out of the cracks in the parking lot?
The gas buildup is just one of at least 20 violations cited by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The agency has asked the Ohio attorney general's office to file a lawsuit accusing the owners of the development of not correcting problems fast enough. According to Ohio EPA records: Four months ago, a paving machine ignited a small methane fire, with flames rising through the grate of a parking lot drain near an Applebee's restaurant. The fire was extinguished. No one was hurt. Last July, the city moved a fireworks show away from the shopping plaza after the EPA warned that sparks might ignite rooftop methane vents. Until March 2007, heavily polluted water collected in unlined, unsecured ponds at the site. The ponds have since been drained. Water containing dangerous substances continues to leak from the old dump into storm sewers, which empty into nearby streams and the Cuyahoga River. Said Ohio EPA spokesman Mike Settles of Columbus: "These are not normal things that should be experienced at a shopping center."
Do you suppose? And it's not like this is anything new.
Contaminants in the water include cancer-causing poisons such as pesticides, PCBs, ammonia, oil, grease and vinyl chloride, said Steve Tuckerman of the EPA's Division of Surface Water. Tuckerman has been analyzing water samples at the site since the project began. In a 2005 memo he wrote, "Many of these analytical results are among the highest in my experience of more than 20 years of evaluating water quality. They indicate grossly polluted conditions." Tuckerman did more sampling last July and again a few weeks ago. "It's still grossly polluted," he said in an interview last week.
But you can still buy lots of cheap plastic crap from China there. Don't you feel better now? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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