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Slag waste removal under way at Recovery Act - funded Kokomo Superfund site

Release Date: 11/10/2009
Contact Information: (EPA) Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov (IDEM) Barry Sneed, 317-232-8596

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA223

MEDIA BRIEFING TODAY 1 P.M.: EPA and IDEM staff will hold a briefing for media and local officials at the site at 1p.m, Tuesday, Nov. 10. Meet at the EPA trailer west of the water treatment plant, at the intersection of Markland Avenue and Berkley Road. A short tour of key work areas will follow. Please dress for cool, possibly muddy conditions.

(CHICAGO – Nov. 10, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that cleanup of the slag processing area of the Recovery Act-funded Continental Steel Superfund site in Kokomo, Ind., is under way, with a first phase nearly complete. The project is being managed in consultation with Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

In April 2009, EPA received $5.9 million in funding via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to complete needed cleanup at two portions of the 183-acre Superfund site: the former Slag Processing Area and Contaminated Groundwater. The money, part of $600 million to address 51 different sites that Congress appropriated to the federal Superfund program, accelerated the hazardous waste cleanup already under way. A total of 15 Indiana contractors or subcontractors have been retained over the course of the ARRA-funded work, creating at least 45 temporary jobs.

Prior to the new ARRA funding, EPA had spent more than $66 million on cleanup activities at the site. IDEM has spent about $6 million. Work at the site has been managed as six separate areas: the Main Plant, the Acid Lagoon Area, the Slag Processing Area, Markland Avenue Quarry, Kokomo and Wildcat creeks, and Groundwater. Significant remediation work prior to the current ARRA work included teardown of the old Main Plant buildings and excavation and disposal of heavily contaminated soil and waste piles in that area, and dredging and disposal of contaminated sediment from the Kokomo and Wildcat creeks and Markland Avenue quarry.

Continental Steel operated on the site from about 1914 to 1986, when it filed for bankruptcy. A major local employer, the facility produced nails, wire and fencing from scrap metal. The site was added to EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List in 1989.

The slag processing cleanup started in early September and is visible along the Markland Avenue side of the site. The first phase, now about 95 percent complete, entails moving about 80,000 tons of lead- and arsenic-contaminated steel waste to the Acid Lagoon Area for use as fill. Next, the slag processing area will be graded to a level three to four feet above ground and covered with a soil cap—thus leaving it suitable for potential redevelopment. Moving the slag waste required more than 6,200 truckloads over about nine weeks.

The Recovery Act funds are also being used to collect samples from the existing network of ground water monitoring wells, which helps EPA and IDEM verify the current contaminated plume area.

The Superfund program was created in 1980 to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites that pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. Superfund sites are often found in industrial areas hardest hit by the recession and are major construction projects that employ thousands of workers nationwide. By starting or speeding up cleanup at Superfund sites, Recovery Act funding is also increasing the speed with which these sites are returned to productive use. Since it began, the Superfund program has completed construction of remedies at 1,080 of the 1,610 sites on its National Priorities List.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Feb. 17, 2009, and has directed the Recovery Act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how every dollar is being invested at http://www.recovery.gov.

For more information on the Continental Steel Superfund site, see http://www.epa.gov/superfund/eparecovery/continental_steel.html.

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