Crooked River Reflections | Cleaning up the Krejci Dump

Writing by Arrye Rosser

Buyer beware! When Cuyahoga Valley National Park purchased the Krejci Dump in 1985, park officials had no idea what would be involved in restoring the property as parkland. 

As we celebrate Earth Day 2021 this month, we are also celebrating the end of a cleanup effort that has taken more than 30 years. The former salvage yard and waste disposal facility in Boston Township was so contaminated with industrial waste that it qualified under the Superfund law. It was one of the most polluted sites in the National Park Service. And now it is one of the cleanest.

The other amazing fact is that the government lawyers working on this Cuyahoga Valley case set a legal precedent that impacts similar sites nationwide. The responsible parties — not U.S. taxpayers — paid more than $50 million to remove the toxins, re-sculpt the landscape and plant native species. The Ford Motor Company led the work. 

The photo above was probably taken in about 1985, before the young Environmental Protection Agency removed about 1,000 drums of paint. Is that what that blue liquid is? Getting rid of leaking barrels was only the start. After our legal victory in 2001, more than 375,000 tons of contaminated materials were dug up and trucked away to a licensed disposal facility in Michigan. In some spots, Ford excavated 25 feet below the surface before reaching clean soil. That phase ended in 2012. 

The featured photo at the top of this story shows Ohio plants thriving on what was once a bare moonscape. Now wetland pools and sedge meadows are surrounded by native grasses and wildflowers. 

This 40-acre miracle is located on either side of West Hines Hill Road, near the bridge over I-271. To learn more and to explore our photo essay, visit Removing Toxins at Krejci Dump (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).

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