According to a new report released Thursday, the Dover Chemical plant in Tuscarawas County and old Nease Chemical in Columbiana County were named two of the five worst toxic-waste sites in the state.

The report, “The Toll of Superfund Neglect,” from the Center for American Progress and the Center for Progressive Reform, examines public health and environment concerns raised by neglected Superfund sites. Dover Chemical qualifies for the Superfund list, but has not officially been added to it. Nease has been on the list since Sept. 8, 1983.

The Superfund program is a federal, multibillion-dollar environmental program designed to clean up the nation's worst abandoned toxic-waste sites. The program was created in 1980.

The report highlights five toxic-waste sites in each of the top 10 most populous states. The other three Ohio locations are in Lake County, Butler County and Montgomery County.

“They're bad,” said Rena Steinzor, a University of Maryland professor and a Center for Progressive Reform board member. Steinzor worked on identifying the nation's original Superfund sites in the 1980s. She figures there are roughly 1,200 “bad” toxic waste sites in the country.

Steinzor said they chose to study the national Superfund program because many low-income, minority Americans live near toxic waste sites. Thirteen of the sites analyzed in the report show between 40 percent and 70 percent of minorities are near a waste site. The report also indicates about 3 million to 4 million children live within one mile of a Superfund site.

To quality for the Superfund list, a site must score 28.5 or higher on a hazardous ranking system. A score depends on the quantity of toxic chemicals dumped, population, exposure, environmental loss caused by the site and how hazardous the chemicals are. Dover Chemical scored 50 points out of a possible 100. Nease scored 47.

According to the report, the 50 sites analyzed showed a toxic mixture of chemicals, which can cause cancer, birth defects, brain damage and more. Such chemicals found in the research include lead, arsenic, copper, zinc and dioxin.

It is an “alphabet soup” of tasteless, odorless chemicals, Steinzor said. Dioxin can cause cancer and reproductive problems. Dover Chemical contamination includes dioxin, the report indicates.

Steinzor said another reason for the report was to raise awareness for the program. The findings come as a Senate subcommittee on Superfund and waste management convened Thursday. She said the program has taken a funding hit in recent years, slowing progress, after a tax imposed on oil and chemical companies responsible for the toxic waste was cut in 1995. The tax paid for cleanup at abandoned toxic waste sites.

“We need to get the program back on track. Reinstate those taxes. Let's not keep giving a windfall to people who don't deserve it and don't need it,” Steinzor said.

Reece Rushing, associate director for regulatory policy at the Center for American Progress, said the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration have been responsible for the Superfund program's demise. He said Congress allowed the tax to expire and Bush has rejected calls to reinstate it.

“I think it's important to remember this is still an important issue for people, and just because Congress is ignoring it doesn't mean we should,” said Rushing, adding the Senate subcommittee had not discussed the Superfund program in four years.

Dover Chemical officials did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday. A maker of vinyl products, the company's activities from the 1950s through the early 1970s are largely responsible for the polluted soil and groundwater problems. Waste water was discharged into a ditch, which ran into the Sugar Creek, until 1987, the report shows.

Mary Logan, an EPA remedial project manager, said an agreement to clean the old Nease plant was reached last fall. The facility closed in 1975 and is owned by Ruetgers-Nease Chemical Co. in State College, Pa. The cleanup process starts this fall.

BAD TOXINS A newly published report, “The Toll of Superfund Neglect,” from the Center of American Progress and Center for Progressive Reform says Tuscarawas County's Dover Chemical plant is one of Ohio's five worst hazardous waste sites. The report examines public health and environmental concerns from neglected Superfund sites, a multibillion-dollar environmental program designed to clean up the nation's worst toxic waste sites. Dover Chemical is not officially a Superfund site.

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