City council cleans up Carbondale to create new parks

By Gus Bode

Factoid:To obtain more information on the proposed EPA corrective action, go to http://www.epa.gov/reg5rcra/wptdiv/permits/index.htm.

Tuesday night the Carbondale City Council discussed ways of beautifying the area around the Mill Street Underpass, as well as considering ways to contain and eliminate toxic waste in northwest Carbondale.

Early in the evening the city council unanimously approved the purchase of the property on 805 S. Illinois Ave., for $77,000.

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The newly acquired land will be used for the Green Space Project. The overall goal of the project is to develop “pocket parks” around the Mill Street Underpass to make the area more attractive for the community and outside visitors to Carbondale.

Some of the proposed ideas for the area include landscaping, lighting, public art and sculptures.

Councilwoman Maggie Flanagan, who is also a member of the Green Space Development group, said she was very excited the project was approved. Flanagan said ever since the underpass was designed, certain areas have been set aside for the Green Space Project.

“It took so long to get the underpass built that some of our plans have been slow to go, so we are anxious to get going,” Flanagan said.

The beautification project will create three pocket parks near the Mill Street Underpass. Another green area will be developed on the SIUC property on the southwest corner of Mill Street and Illinois Avenue.

After the council approved the purchase of land for the Green Space Project, it turned its attention to an area in Carbondale that needs critical help.

The city received a notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that is seeking a remedy for the contaminated soil and water at the Beazer East, Inc., facility, located on the northeast side of Carbondale.

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The Beazer East, Inc., facility, formally known as the Koppers Co., operated from 1905 until 1991. At one time the Koppers was the world’s largest creosote wood treatment plant.

Although the plant has not been operational since 1991 and is mostly dismantled, contaminates are still present on the property.

According to the EPA, the site is contaminated with creosote-related contaminates, pentachlorophenol (PCP), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and arsenic. These contaminates have been identified in surface soils, subsurface soils, surface water, ground water and creek sediments on the Kopper property.

The EPA proposed 12 main actions to correct and contain the contaminates in the facility. The corrective measures include the creation of a secure landfill to contain waste from the site, covering 22 acres of the site with a soil cap, relocating portions of Glades Creek and monitoring the ground water on the site for at least 30 years.

The EPA proposal also recommends future land use of the site to be restricted to industrial uses and also prohibiting the use of ground water in the site area.

Councilman Chris Wissmann was concerned whether the site, if reinstated, would be safe as an industrial site. He said he was concerned for the safety of future workers on the site if it was used again as an industrial area.

Wissmann also encouraged SIUC staff and students with expertise on environmental cleanup to review the proposal and offer their own ideas for possible solutions for the Koppers facility.

Assistant City Manager Don Monty told the council that trying to clean the area will be a big task and the city should concentrate on getting the contaminates to a safe level.

“I don’t think we have to clean up the site to pristine residential standards. Instead, we should clean it to where it was before,” Monty said.

The EPA proposal will be open for public comment until Sept. 22 and is available from the city clerk’s office. Carbondale citizens are encouraged to provide comments on the EPA’s proposed remedies.

Reporter Nicole Sack can be reached at [email protected]

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