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Cleanup begins at old dump along Wabash River

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Work has started on cleaning up lead-contaminated soil covering several acres at a former scrap business along the Wabash River.

Contractors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moved an excavator and other heavy equipment onto the site Monday. Crews are expected to remove up to 3,500 tons of contaminated soil in a project costing nearly $1 million, EPA on-site coordinator Jason Sewell told the Tribune-Star (http://bit.ly/1udvMI4).

The work is expected to take at least three weeks to complete but could take longer depending on how much contaminated soil must be cleared and hauled to an off-site disposal facility.

“We know from some of our preliminary assessment in some places it is relatively shallow – 2 feet or less,” Sewell said.

Sugar Creek Scrap gave the 39 acres to the city of Terre Haute, which plans to place a structure there to catch plastic bottles and other floating items from the city’s sewer system.

In addition to soil, a large metal tank near a pond – estimated to hold 10,000 gallons – will be tested along with several drums. If contaminants are found, the tank and drums will be removed. If not, the Terre Haute Sanitary District will be responsible for cleanup, Sewell said.

City Planner Pat Martin said soil sampling done two weeks ago on a 100-by-100-foot grid found spots of high lead concentrations.

“By having the grid, we can identify areas of concentration, and those will be the areas targeted first,” he said.

Air monitors have also been installed for the project and soil samples will be taken where a pedestrian trail is planned near the river, Martin said.

The city’s sanitary district will clear brush and remove old cars or metal containers, which can be sold as scrap to offset cost of the cleanup.

The area also contains medical waste, such as glass vials and medical bottles, likely from a former hospital in the city, and several thousand old tires that must be removed, Martin said.

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