At a public health and safety committee meeting, Bill Ingersoll, an attorney with Springfield-based Brown, Hay and Stephens, shared insight from his communications with IEPA project manager Barb Landers, including reading out loud a detailed email from Landers answering questions from Spring Valley’s economic director Debb Ladgenski.
“No, this site does not pose a risk to the residents ofSpring Valley,” Landers wrote.
She also addressed a question about whether the site was “unique” among redeveloped Brownfield sites inIllinois.
“The investigative results have actually been rather mundane,” Landers answered “What is unique is the amount of effort and money the (Remedial applicant) has put into investigating and closing out the site.”
That’s a different tune than the city has heard for many years. After the factory closed, the city had difficulty getting a past owner to agree to allow any testing on the site, or to consider remediating or selling the property. Current owner Invensys Inc. of Massachusetts enrolled the property in a voluntary remediation program, but did not make efforts to keep the city or residents apprised of testing on the property. That’s not unusual, even for cooperative companies: Ingersoll said IEPA recommends that property owners put some effort into community relations, but few see it as a worthwhile investment.
The site was issued a comprehensive “no further remediation” letter in April. That letter means the property owners do not have to continue any further cleanup. However, there are restrictions on how the land can be used: A portion of the land that already is covered in a concrete cap must remain covered to prevent rainwater from spreading a potential carcinogen, tricloethene (TCE), and no wells can be dug on the property. Both restrictions are intended to prevent the chemical from entering drinking water supplies.
Ingersoll said the concentration of TCE at the “hot spot” is just slightly above allowable level, testing at 27 milligrams per kilogram. The maximum level for industrial commercial inhalation is 20 milligrams per kilogram. That is intended to protect a worker who would be exposed to the potential airborne contaminant for eight hours per day, five days a week, over 25 years. Limits are much lower for conditions where construction workers would dig deeper than seven feet beneath the surface.
Relying on information provided by Barb Landers, Ingersoll said the company is required to keep only a 25-by-25 foot space capped by concrete, smaller than the site that currently is capped.
In the early phases of the investigation, consultants sampled “all over the site” looking for “likely industrial compounds,” Ingersoll said. Testing on the site revealed the elevated TCE levels, as well as the presence of other potential industrial contaminants at levels below IEPA’s threshold for concern.
Now that a “no further remediation” letter has been issued, IEPA does not require ongoing testing at the site. Residents who later are concerned about possible spread of contaminants – either because of sewer backup in their basement, or from seeing construction work on the site – can contact IEPA inSpringfieldorRockfordto make a complaint.
Throughout the meeting, no one mentioned by name the company and developer seeking to purchase the site: the grocery store, Sullivan’s. The site’s marketability raised concern for George Forsa: It lies within both an Enterprise Zone and a Tax Increment Financing district, so the owner could apply for abatement of sales tax and construction materials, a freeze on the property tax level and access to funds collected from throughout the TIF district.
“Buyers of a Brownfield accept the risk at the reduced price they typically get,” Forsa said. “I don’t think the city deserves to put any more money into it than they already have… This can be a bit of a quagmire, if you want to make that site perfect. And that can cost quite a bit of money.”
Allison Ryan can be reached at (815) 220-6931 or email@example.com.