Ashland residents hear Superfund site progress

By KBJR News 1

September 18, 2013 Updated Sep 18, 2013 at 11:47 PM CDT

Ashland WI, (NNCNOW.com) - Cleanup continues at one of the largest contaminated areas in Wisconsin, the Ashland Superfund site.

On Wednesday, community members met with project officials to hear of progress from the site.

The Chequamegon Bay in Ashland is considered one of the most polluted bodies of water in Wisconsin, so much, it's was designated as a Superfund site.

Phase one of a cleanup project of the Ashland waterfront is currently underway, which included the recent demolition of the former Northern States Power manufacturing plant, partly responsible for tar oil contamination of the area.

"We've broken the site down into two parts, phase one which is the on land portion that will deal with the upper bluff, the location of the former NSP facility, the ravine near the Kreher Park area, as well as both the ground waters both shallow and deep," said John Robinson, remediation supervisor, Wisconsin DNR.

On Wednesday, the EPA, and Wisconsin D-N-R , held a meeting at Hotel Chequamegon to give Ashland neighbors an update on the site, which includes remediation of contaminated land soil and sediment in and around Chequamegon Bay,"

"Now we're in the design stage for the soil excavation part. We're reviewing the designs, trying to get to the point where we can get the designs approved so we can start work next spring," said EPA remediation manager, Scott Hansen.

But officials with Xcel Energy, one the four named parties responsible for the contamination, say the other parties involved in the cleanup need to be more mindful of the additional environmental impacts of the cleanup process.

"What we've learned from this process is there's some really good ways to do this cleanup, ways that are protective of the environment, ways that are protective of human health and ways that can be done much safer and at a less cost to the community," said Brian Elwood, spokesman Xcel Energy/Northern States Power.

Some of potential impacts of the land and water remediation including wet and dry dredging could be heavy truck traffic, excessive noise, and possible odor from chemicals that make up the contamination.

Officials say with the right steps, the Ashland community will experience minimal disturbance of further environmental impact.

"There will be significant air monitoring requirements, the level of the contaminants in the air will trigger response actions, our goal is to minimize the air," said Robinson.

And it's a cleanup process that many residents of Ashland hope will bring their cities waterfront back to life.

The project is expected to cost between $84 and $98 million dollars, mostly from the responsible parties.

EPA experts say the bulk of the land and water remediation work is expected to wrap up by 2014.

Jeremy Brickley
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