EPA holds public meeting about Lockwood Superfund site

2012-04-24T22:06:00Z 2012-04-25T00:01:18Z EPA holds public meeting about Lockwood Superfund siteBy CARMEN DAYE IRISH cirish@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A couple dozen concerned citizens and landowners attended a community meeting hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday evening to discuss Lockwood's Superfund site and the agency's projected cleanup timeline.

The cleanup is expected to begin in 2013 with an completion date of 2021.

The EPA designated the 580-acre site in 2000 after the state found concentrations of chlorinated solvents exceeding drinking water standards in the soil and groundwater at the Beall Trailers, Inc. facility and the Soco West facility. Further indications showed surface water, soil vapor and indoor air had been contaminated.

"I'm sorry to say there hasn't been much progress since 2005, with the exception of taking samples" Roger Hoogerheide, remedial project manager with the EPA said. "We are doing more sampling, but the reason why is to be able to guide our cleanup better. We are no longer investigating, but we are designing the remedy to clean it up."

Once the EPA has a good handle on where the contamination is, Hoogerheide said the agency will use wells to extract vapors, excavate contaminated soil, use microscopic bacteria that live in soil and groundwater to eat harmful chemicals and inject chemicals into the groundwater to break down the pollutants.

"We will implement a small-scale pilot test to make sure the methods will work on larger scales," Hoogerheide said.

Federal Superfund project manager John Podolinsky of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality said they think about a dozen homes are potentially at risk of contamination.

"Homes with basements, crawl spaces and dirt foundations are most at risk," Podolinsky said.

The agency offered to test residents' homes to look for vapor intrusion and  then evaluate the results against the newer standards. Hoogerheide said the cost of testing would average about $2,000 for each residence and would be in addition to the projected cleanup cost of $6.9 million.

Diana Grantham, a neighboring resident of the Superfund site for 25 years, has an eight-foot wall between her land and the Beall Trailers facility.

"I don't think this should be minimized for one second longer," Grantham said. "We've been down this road before and I'm very leery and cautious. The possible health concerns need to be addressed and looked at progressively."

Rob Ingersoll, a nine-year resident in the area, said he has had six dogs die of cancer.

Midland West Manufacturing owner Rob Alt said he has been turned down for bank loans to expand his business specifically because the value of the land has been seriously jeopardized, he said. Other landowners and homeowners said they have had similar problems.

Yellowstone County Commissioners Bill Kennedy said the ability of landowners to expand businesses or homes is a big issue.

"It is important for the people to have a timeline of the project," Kennedy said. "It's a matter of the unknown at this point, and the site has given a stigma to this area. To show some progress will hopefully cut down on the stigma.

"The positive side is that they are getting a start to the cleanup."

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