Less trash found in River Sweep

PARKERSBURG – While the 2017 edition of the Ohio River Sweep had a large number of volunteers, the number of bags they filled were at all-time low.

John Reed, director of the Wood County Solid Waste Authority, said 72 bags were collected as more than 100 volunteers picked up litter and trash at Point Park, along the river behind the Erickson All Sports Facility, at Corning Park, the Williamstown Boat Ramp and Blennerhassett Island.

“With improvements being made along the river, such as Point Park, everything is starting to look better than it did before,” he said. “This is the first time we collected less than 100 bags in good weather.”

Greg Chapman, a Chemours employee, said he has participated in the River Sweep for a number of years. He said about 30 volunteers worked on the area behind the Erickson All Sports Facility in south Parkersburg along the Little Kanawha River.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 to 15 years now and this is the cleanest it has been,” he said. “Hopefully what this is saying is after year after year we are helping to get some of the bigger things so now it mostly smaller stuff.”

Kevin Tanner, leader of Cub Scout Pack 129 and a Chemours employee, said he expected the conditions along the river to be much worse.

“This is my second time,” he said. “I was expecting trash, it was mostly paper, plastic bottles and foam cups. It takes a long time for some of that stuff to decay.”

Bob Fehrenbacher, plant manager at Washington Works, said DuPont has been part of the Ohio River Sweep since the 1980s. He said now Chemours is also part of the project.

“This is an activity Chemours is promoting,” he said. “We have put this out to our employees and we have employees connected to local Scout troops who have brought them to participate.

“It is a worthwhile activity.”

Reed said there were 160-170 volunteers stretching from Erickson All Sports Facility to Williamstown out picking up litter and refuse from the river banks and water on Saturday. Development along the river has been a good thing as far as litter control goes, he said.

“Places like Point Park are now developed territories with full-time parks maintenance workers and they keep it so clean,” he said. “The yacht club keeps their area clean, Civitan Park in Belpre, Blennerhassett Island. They are now pretty much self-maintaining and that helps us greatly.”

Reed said plans to concentrate on Pond Run were canceled since the area along the creek is overgrown. He said they are looking into a special event for Pond Run and Little Pond Run, possibly in March.

“It’s bad in some areas and all that will go to the river,” he said. “Our idea is to stop it before it gets there.”