Most Franklin Countians were surprised to learn that hazardous waste is being stored in a former industrial plant at Berger. Those surprised included the Franklin County Commission.

On top of that, the state and federal agencies involved in this matter didn’t have the courtesy to notify county officials!

That’s not too unusual. Those agencies often ignore the local officials on investigations and actions taken. Big Brothers apparently believe it’s in their realm of jurisdiction so why bother to notify the locals. 

Yet the state and federal agencies usually want notification by the locals of  problems that may affect them. Also, the Big Brothers often feel they are the “experts” so why bother with local officials. 

The lack of cooperation and communication is more the rule than the exception by state and federal agencies.

Commissioner Tim Brinker told The Missourian that the county had no idea about the hazardous waste being stored at Berger, and was not made aware of any investigation by the Feds.

At issue is spent sandblasting waste containing heavy metals which result when paint is removed from equipment on military bases. The waste at Berger is stored in 55-gallon drums and large sacks. Federal law requires that the waste be recycled. It has not been.

Which agency has the responsibility to make sure the waste is recycled? The ball was dropped by the enforcement agency, whichever one is vested with that responsibility. 

The Feds have issued an indictment against companies from Missouri and Ohio, and their officers, alleging that 9 million pounds of waste was first dumped in Mississippi before being illegally transferred to Missouri. What responsibility does the renter of storage space have in this regard? Must the renters check out all the materials stored in their buildings? Do the renters have the necessary tools needed to check what is stored? What permits are required?

It makes one wonder how much other hazardous waste is stored in once-vacant buildings around the country?

If this hazardous waste is from a military base, federal property, it would follow that the Feds are responsible for what happens to the disposal of hazardous material from federal property. The ball was dropped and why did it take so long for the Feds to indict the alleged companies? The material was shipped to Missouri in 2013. 

The building in question is the former Zero Manufacturing Co. facility. Zero was sold to Clemco years ago and the building was not used by the new owners. The county did rezone the Berger property some time ago to permit warehousing. 

To The Missourian’s knowledge, the property never flooded from the nearby Missouri River and Berger Creek. Since the hazardous waste there has received publicity, concern has been expressed about the danger of the waste getting into the river or creek water. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources in a statement said there is no indication that any of the waste material has been released to the environment.

The indictment says U.S. Technology leased the blasting materials to clients and was supposed to dispose of the waste. U.S. Technology Corp. of Ohio and another company, Missouri Green Materials, face a conspiracy charge. Three corporate officers face conspiracy and a transportation of hazardous waste charge.

Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said when the federal agencies are involved, they are in control. No doubt about that. However, the Feds should communicate with county officials about problems they are aware of that could pose a safety threat.