Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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June 8, 2008

Continental Steel cleanup moves to quarry

For Pat Likins, it’s a rare environmental cleanup which doesn’t uncover more contamination than originally expected.

That’s proving the case at Continental Steel, where almost every phase of the cleanup, from the demolition of the old plant buildings to the dredging of Kokomo Creek, has cost the federal government more money than expected.

But Likins, the longtime project manager at the massive cleanup, hasn’t been discouraged by the numerous discoveries of contamination.

It’s just part of what she does.

If tests or just plain visual evidence uncovers more muck, it gets added to her cleaning list. The list, however, has grown considerably shorter thanks to millions spent over the past three years.

The latest interesting discovery involves a network of pipes connecting numerous fuel oil tanks at the southern end of the Main Plant site, the 80-acre tract bordered by Park and Markland avenues, the Kokomo Creek and Leeds Street.

A quantity of that fuel oil managed to leak into the soil bordering a major sewer interceptor — Pete’s Run — which runs just below the Main Plant site before emptying into Kokomo Creek.

Over the last several weeks, contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have dug trenches on both sides of Pete’s Run, and installed concrete walls at the bottom of the trenches to cut off the flow of the oil.

Instead of the oil flowing through the sewer into the creek, it is now collecting in a sump pit where the walls meet the sewer line.

If environmental officials weren’t sure where the contamination was coming from a few months ago, they are now.

“We think it’s all coming from on site,” Likins said last week. “This was the best place to catch it and stop it.”

Digging out the contaminated soil to install the catch walls and sump pit added to the already considerable stockpiles of contaminated soil still awaiting transportation to an approved landfill.

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