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Continental Steel site update: Wildcat Creek dredging to begin, redevelopment highlighted

Release Date: 10/30/2006
Contact Information: (EPA) Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050, (IDEM) Amy Hartsock, (317) 233-4927 (City of Kokomo) Mike Ward, (765) 456-7455

No. 06-OPA202

CHICAGO (Oct. 30, 2006) - Dredging to remove contaminated sediment from Kokomo, Ind.'s, Wildcat and Kokomo Creeks will begin in early November, continuing through summer 2007. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 will oversee the $7 million riverbed excavation project, with consultation from Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The project represents the newest phase of cleanup at the Continental Steel Superfund site. Construction of a $1.7 million dewatering pad in the lagoon area next to the creek was completed in April. The pad will be used to remove excess water from the dredged material before it is shipped off-site for disposal.

The dredging area will address six separate "reaches" of the creeks, which flow into the Wabash River. The primary environmental goal is removal of PCB- (polychlorinated biphenyls) contaminated sediment. PCBs are potentially harmful to aquatic life and people as they rise in the food chain.

The 183-acre Continental Steel site cleanup encompasses six areas: the main steel plant, a lagoon area used for waste liquids, a waste disposal site, a slag processing area, Wildcat Creek and ground water below the site.

The site was added to EPA's Superfund National Priorities List in 1989. To date, EPA has spent more than $66 million on a series of cleanup actions and engineering studies. The state of Indiana has spent an estimated $6 million at the Kokomo site.

"EPA is committed to finishing the job at Continental Steel," said Regional Superfund Director Richard Karl. "We're pleased to see the dredging project move forward while at the same time IDEM is pushing ahead on other fronts."

On a separate track from the dredging effort, IDEM will oversee ongoing cleanup at the main plant portion of the site using state funds approved in 2004. "State funding has allowed the city of Kokomo to make much quicker progress in its plans for the main plant site's productive reuse," said IDEM Commissioner Thomas W. Easterly. "My staff is focused on helping community officials realize their vision, and we look forward to witnessing the positive changes to come in the neighborhood's landscape."

Efforts to redevelop portions of the Continental Steel site have been under way for a number of years. The city of Kokomo received a $100,000 EPA Superfund Redevelopment Pilot grant in 2000 to get the process started, and local officials are now moving forward with a variety of opportunities involving the site.

"We are working toward a great vision to turn this former blighted site into a beautiful recreational complex that will become a shining star in Kokomo," said Mayor Matt McKillip. "This project is a good example of how the city of Kokomo is working with state and federal agencies to provide a better place to live, work and raise a family, and to create the types of cultural amenities that residents and businesses have come to expect."

Continental Steel operated on the site from about 1914 to 1986, when it filed for bankruptcy. The facility produced nails, wire and wire fence from scrap metal.

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