June 21, 2013

MidAmerican, DNR update people on clean-up efforts on South H Street

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — MidAmerican Energy and Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials gave local residents an update Wednesday evening on clean-up efforts at the intersection of South H Street and Third Avenue West.

Coal tar residue had been discovered there this spring and clean-up efforts have been underway. Workers had discovered coal tar residue from a manufacturing gas plant located about a block away. The plant operated from the 1870s to the 1930s and converted coal into gasoline

Kevin Armstrong, a supervising hydrogeologist with MWH, told the audience gathered at the Peppertree restaurant that clean-up work is wrapping up at the site.

Armstrong said that about 2,500 tons of soil had been excavated and removed from the site. Workers also took air samples of the area to check for pollutants. There was “no exceedance of air quality standards,” he said.

Workers brought in clean backfill clay and topsoil. They are replacing sidewalks and seeding the ground this week, he added.

Armstrong said that additional sampling was done of the old creek channel in the area and sump water from a house. He said there is no evidence of contamination in the creek channel or downstream from the site. Also, the sump water was clear of contaminants, he said.

The next step is to file reports with the DNR and monitor the area with wells.

DNR environmental specialist Matt Culp said three wells are in place and two more will go in Thursday.

The officials also fielded questions during a question-and-answer session.

An audience member asked if it was safe for children to play in a neighborhood park.

Armstrong said the park is safe for kids.

Another audience member asked if there was a place for people to go to find information about the work.

Culp said officials could establish a repository of written information about the site. The location is yet to be determined, he added.

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com