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Cleanup at Ironton Iron expected to take a year

Because of all the concrete at the old Ironton Iron site, it was more of soil moving Friday than a groundbreaking.

It was also a little bit of a demolition as Mayor John Elam used a backhoe to knock down a wall of an old electrical transfer substation on the site.

It was the first step of the third phase of getting the site remediated.

“This is the culmination of efforts that have been ongoing for close to four years about this industrial graveyard that is a scab on Ironton,” Elam said.

Elam said after he entered office in 2003 he spoke with Dave Schmitt of Cors & Bassett about the 25 acres of land that was used for more than 100 years to produce iron.

They spent the next three and half years pursuing grants to get the site tested for contamination and then more grants to get the site cleaned up. Earlier this year, it was announced the city was getting nearly $2.5 million from the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Urban Development fund to clean up the site.

The site is now being handed over from Ironton Iron Inc. to the city of Ironton and there are plans to use it for industrial or commercial use after the cleanup.

“I am glad to see this come to completion and to use it as a step to further build upon the foundation of development we have established over the past four years,” said Elam, whose last day in office was Friday.

Mark Rhinehart of SRW Environmental Services said said his company has done a lot of remediation of different types and sizes of sites. As far as brownfield sites go, the old Ironton Iron site is a pretty easy cleanup.

“This is relatively straightforward,” he said. “It’s relatively clean for 100 years worth of heavy industrial activity. You’d expect to find more.”

He said there is a small soil remediate of PCBs, which comes from electrical transformers and some groundwater that will be treated to remove an industrial solvent in the center of the property.

Rhinehart said the bulk of the project will be to remove acres of concrete that was once the floors of the numerous buildings on the site.

And if all goes well, the site should be ready for commercial development by next Christmas.

“With a little bit of luck and some good weather, absolutely,” Rhinehart said.

Schmitt said he is excited by the project getting under way.

“It has taken a long time to get it going. It took longer than we expected because Ironton Iron Inc. went through bankruptcy,” he said. “It’s been a long road but we got all this done without spending any of the city’s money.”