Tremont City Barrel Fill cleanup still stalled as negotiations continue

Any work to remove hazardous materials from the Tremont City Barrel Fill site in Clark County won’t take place for months, federal officials told residents at a meeting in downtown Springfield this week.

Jim Saric, a remedial project manager from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency based in Chicago, said it’s difficult to say when work might begin on the roughly $27 million to $28 million proposed project, in part because attorneys in Washington have not yet signed off on it. He said the U.S. Justice Department is conducting a legal review of the documents that outline the plan.

MORE: Tremont City barrel fill: What’s really going on?

The barrel fill, located at 3108 Snyder Domer Road about three miles northwest of Springfield, was used between 1976 and 1978 and is an 8.5-acre section of a closed landfill. If left in its current state, the site could be a risk to public health decades from now because the barrels could deteriorate and some of the chemicals could leach into the area's aquifer, affecting the water of up to 80,000 people, officials said.

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The waste included glues, resins, paint sludge, paint scraps, soap, shampoo, detergent, asbestos, oils and other industrial compounds. Food industry sources also disposed of items such as margarine and corn syrup.

Saric also told residents the process is expected to be used to remove waste from the site.

“We’re going to go into the barrel fill and remove the drums,” Saric said. “We’re going to take the liquid waste that are in these drums and ship that off-site. And then the solids that remain, we’re going to conduct a double-line waste cell and place the hazardous back in and then cap it and ground monitor, or monitor the groundwater.”

READ MORE: Springfield wants hazardous waste dump named a Superfund site

Saric said negotiations to reach a final agreement to clean the site could take six months. It would also take about a year to design the project before it would officially start.

He also stressed those are only estimated time tables.

Community members and local leaders have pushed the EPA for years to remove all of the hazardous waste. The agency was expected to move forward with a $56 million plan to do that.

But in 2011, the federal agency decided to pursue a $28 million plan calling for barrels containing liquids to be removed and ones with solid waste to be dug up and then reburied on-site in a lined landfill.

Since then, a modified version of the cheaper plan was introduced and estimated to cost about $24 million. It also includes a double liner, a leak detection system and possibly removing some of the barrels containing the worst chemicals.

The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively about the proposed cleanup plan for the Tremont City Barrel Fill since it was first introduced in 2011, including stories digging into the costs and why local activists want the hazardous waste removed.

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