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NewsTribune photo/Jeff Dankert Workers remove steel from fire-damaged areas of Peru Trade Center LLC, known as the old Westclox building in Peru. Workers have spent most of this month removing steel. The building suffered major fire damage in January 2012.
Mike Krug this week was happy to report a few numbers.
In the past 3½ weeks, 1.6 million pounds, or 800 tons, of heavy melt structural steel was removed from the Westclox rubble pile.
On Monday, five truckloads of steel went out, accounting for 73 tons, Krug said. A real estate broker in the Chicago area, Krug serves as a consultant to and site manager for the building’s owner, Peru Trade Center LLC.
The mess was caused by fire that roared through the old Peru clock-making plant the first week of January 2012.
It burned for five days, and flare-ups occurred weeks afterward. Two boys were charged with arson. Steven M. Gallacher, now 18, of La Salle was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a younger boy was sentenced to probation.
The cleanup has made a major dent in rubble covering 160,000 square feet, or more than three acres.
Krug’s report of progress came with pride for tackling the mountain of demolition debris using two Peru Trade Center workers and three workers with Boehm Brothers Inc., Peru. Krug also vented at critics who alleged foot-dragging, lack of commitment and even toxic waste.
Krug called the criticisms “tiresome.”
Overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency, the rubble includes inert steel, concrete, brick and construction materials, Krug said.
“We’re down to picking up loose odds and ends,” Krug said. “To me it was monumental.”
Insurance settlements still are in litigation, he said. The arsonist fire reportedly was fueled and spread by plastics stored by E & R International, a recycling business.
Waiting and hoping for insurance compensation, Peru Trade Center will fetch some income from the scrap steel, although the price is down substantially from this time last year, Krug said. This withers another allegation that they delayed cleanup for better steel prices, he said.
The criminal investigation, insurance claims process, Environmental Protection Agency permits and the green light from Illinois Historic Preservation Agency delayed cleanup.
The factory stopped production in 1980. Peru Trade Center owns and leases the building to businesses. The owners are Sam Macaluso Sr. and Jr. of the Chicago area.
There are no plans yet for the grounds when they are cleared of rubble, Krug said.