Butler Company Cleanup
Article by Jeff Jones | KPC News | January 23, 2019
BUTLER — Butler will pursue a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up the former Butler Co. site on South Broadway.
City Planner Steve Bingham and Cheryl Ryan and Glen Howard from SES Environmental Services of Fort Wayne outlined a proposal Monday for the Butler City Council and approximately 10 visitors.
Butler will apply for a $240,000 grant and provide $60,000 as a local match for cleanup efforts.
The Butler Co. complex was destroyed in a March 2015 arson fire, and owners of the property have not responded to city requests about the property nor done anything to clear debris.
Ryan and Howard identified an area of lead and heavy-metal contamination measuring about 19,500 square feet in and around the former foundry building, one of several destroyed in the blaze.
Two environmental reviews found lead contamination in surface fill and groundwater, with evidence of cadmium and other heavy, toxic metals, according to a report prepared by Bingham.
Ryan believed cleanup efforts can be accomplished for $300,000.
The property can’t be sold or used in its current condition.
“In this instance, I think it’s pretty clear-cut,” Ryan said. “The property has gone to a tax sale. Nobody wants it, and nothing can be done with it because people can’t afford to put money into it to get it to a place where something can actually be done with it.”
On Jan. 14, DeKalb County commissioners awarded the tax deed for the property to the city. Eventually, Butler officials hope to sell the property so it can be used again. The application envisions the property being used for commercial or office space.
“It’s particularly a thorn in our side, since it’s across the street from our library, it’s across the street from a major community park, and it’s in a residential neighborhood,” Bingham said. “We want to get it cleaned up, make it look productive and get it to be productive. This is one step in the process.”
Remediation options include immobilization, physical separation, extraction or installing isolation or soil barriers on the property, according to an SES report.
Based on its evaluation, SES said extracting the contaminated soil and replacing it or creating an isolation barrier of at least 2 feet of clay soil would be the most practical options.
Extracting and removing the soil would cost an estimated $489,158, while creating an isolation barrier would cost an estimated $260,350. In either scenario, residential use of the property would be prohibited.
Once the work has been completed, monitoring wells will be installed and checked on a quarterly basis to ensure contaminants haven’t entered the groundwater, Howard explained.
Butler’s grant application is due Jan. 31, and Ryan expects to know by fall if the application is successful.
In response to an audience question about a “plan B” if the grant is not awarded, Bingham said a state grant is a possibility, but a community can have only one active state grant at a time. Butler expects to pursue a state grant to help with a future sewer separation project, he said. The Indiana Finance Authority is another option, Howard added.
“I think you have a good case,” Ryan added about the EPA grant. “I think it shows a compelling story, that the community has an interest and is willing to spend its own money.”