Activism and Awareness beyond the Wittenberg Sphere: The Tremont City Barrel Fill Forum

Environmental awareness and activism—two concepts that will be promoted by the Tremont City Barrel Fill forum, held on Friday, Dec. 12, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Founders Pub and Geil Lounge in the Benham-Pence Student Center.

“We’re trying to extend beyond just the theory of what environmental ethics is and actually try to change our community in a positive way by giving out more information and increasing community involvement,” said forum participant Tim Baker, ’16. “I think it would be really cool to see people going beyond the Wittenberg sphere to be involved.”

Organized by Nancy McHugh’s, professor of philosophy, class, “Science in Social Context,” the forum is student-generated and will include a variety of group and individual research displays, all relating back to the central theme of the forum: waste and water, with the local issue of the Tremont City Barrel Fill at the forefront.

The Tremont City Barrel Fill site is a section at the north end of the Tremont City Landfill that has been the disposal site for thousands of gallons of undocumented industrial waste, according to McHugh.

Because the barrel fill is situated right above an aquifer that provides 82,000 people in Clark County with water, there is much concern as to whether the waste from the barrel fill constitutes a threat to the aquifer.

The barrel fill site is now an EPA superfund, which is a federal government initiative to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites across the country.

“It is kind of crazy that we are only about 10 miles away from a potentially huge environmental disaster, and not many people are even aware that the barrel fill exists,” Baker said.

Conveying the issues of the barrel fill and other environmental matters, the different research displays will range from posters about electronic waste to hands-on activities relating to bottled water v. tap water to models of aquifers and landfills.

“We want to create an environment where people feel engaged with issues relating back to the environment and the community,” McHugh said. “In a way, this also goes back to reflect the Wittenberg mission.”

To carry out such a mission, McHugh’s class has been working for weeks not only on the research aspects of the project, but also on the organizational aspects of putting the event together by raising money through a non-profit organization and actively participating on different committees to see that the event runs smoothly.

“Working on this research really has changed my perspective,” said forum participant Levi Evans, ‘18. “Beforehand, I knew that there were environmental issues, but I really did not know to what degree they are a problem.”

McHugh said that everyone is welcome to attend the forum, and she hopes to see not only Wittenberg students, but also members of the Springfield community, in addition to representatives from Safe Water.

“We want people to find their voice [through the forum],” Baker said. “We want that voice to not just be an echo; we want people to actually stand up for what they believe in.”

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