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South Point Plant site cleanup progressing

SOUTH POINT – Government directed cleanup of contaminated soil at the former South Point Plant Site will be complete by September, say EPA contractors.

Sunday, June 24, 2001

SOUTH POINT – Government directed cleanup of contaminated soil at the former South Point Plant Site will be complete by September, say EPA contractors.

Construction workers, surveyors, geologists and technicians began cleaning the site May 1, removing contaminants from disposal sites on the 610-acre area – which has been a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site since 1984 – said Craig Cox, geologist with Cox-Colvin & Associates Inc. and supervising contractor on the project.

Some material is being sent off site for disposal, but most of the waste is being placed in a nine-acre landfill on site, Cox said. The landfill is located on the eastern end of the property, and is visible from U.S. 52.

"It has really come along well, even with all the rain we’ve had," he said.

So far, more than 25,000 cubic yards of waste have been removed from the disposal areas, Cox said.

When material removal is completed, the former disposal areas will be filled with dirt and reseeded with grass. The landfill will be covered with a multi-layered plastic cap and also filled with dirt and reseeded.

Besides those directly involved in transporting the waste, there is also personnel on the site to test for contaminants in the air, to test the landfill’s construction and to avoid accidents with the machinery.

Inspectors with the Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA also periodically check the progress, Cox said.

Contaminants on the site include nitrates, arsenic and ammonia, all of which were either produced or used in industrial processes of the past, Cox said.

The site was evaluated to be safe for everyone except possible child trespassers in a study mandated by the EPA.

"It is not hazardous at the moment in that it is contained," said Bob Paulson, an EPA community involvement coordinator.

The cleanup is necessary to ensure that contaminants remain contained and pose no risk to future inhabitants, Paulson said.

The main concern was leakage into local water supplies, he said.

Pat Leighty, South Point’s village administrator, said he is confident the crew will do a sufficient job of restoring the site.

Most South Point residents have heard stories about hazardous materials being dumped in the site, but these are mostly exaggeration, Leighty said.

The area will not be ignored, even after the cleanup project is completed, the EPA said. Production wells will continue to filter the groundwater as it flows towards the Ohio River, and Honeywell Inc. will maintain them as long as they are needed, Cox said.

Also, in five years there will be an inspection and re-evaluation by the EPA. This will continue, Cox said, until the agency is satisfied that there is no potential hazard.

The Lawrence Economic Development Corporation now owns the majority of the area, with a small tract being used by Biomass Energy Inc. The LEDC is currently marketing the area for industrial development.

The cleanup, which costs an estimated $4 million, is being funded by Honeywell Inc., which merged with Allied Signal in 1999. Allied Chemical operated the plant from 1943 to 1979, making everything from explosives to fertilizers and formaldehyde. Ashland Oil Inc. purchased the area in 1979.