EPA temporarily suspending $20 million cleanup at former Diaz in Holley

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2020 at 8:19 am

HOLLEY – The federal Environmental Protection Agency is temporarily suspending a $20 million cleanup project at the former Diaz Chemical site in Holley.

The EPA is planning to have about 20 personnel on site for phase 2 of the cleanup on Jackson Street.

The EPA has already spent $12.5 million on the cleanup, using money from the Superfund. The EPA has removed buildings, pipes, drums and tanks. Only two warehouses remain from Diaz, which declared bankruptcy and abandoned the site in 2002. The company operated for about 30 years in Holley.

The next phase – thermal treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater at the site – will cost $20 million, the EPA said.

“As we continue to adjust to the evolving COVID-19 situation, EPA is taking the necessary steps to ensure that decisions about ongoing cleanup activities at Superfund sites are made with the health and safety of communities, EPA staff, state and tribal partners, and contractors as the priority,” the EPA said in a community notice.

Besides EPA staff, the phase 2 includes personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors. They are temporarily suspending bringing equipment and staff to the Superfund site.

“The suspension of work is a temporary measure as we adjust to the ongoing situation with COVID-19,” the EPA said. “We will be periodically reassessing this decision moving forward and are prepared to come back to the site to continue work as soon as possible. The decision to suspend work was made in consultation with, or at the recommendation of, the Village of Holley.”

The EPA has been working on cleaning up the site for nearly 20 years. With phase 2, the EPA will tackle the contaminated soil on the 5-acre site. The soil poses a threat to the groundwater, EPA officials said.

The dirt can’t simply be carted off the premises until it has been treated to remove the contaminants. The EPA and a contractor will drill 600 wells, spaced about 13 to 15 feet apart, and install an underground system where the soil will be heated up. That will remove below-ground contaminates from soil.

Water vapors also will be collected and treated, and then filtered and discharged into the sewer.

Once the contaminant level drops in the soil, about 100 truckloads are expected to be hauled away to a landfill.

The EPA will have 100 truckloads of clean soil brought to the site. Project managers went over the work with the Holley Village Board in February.

The schedule before Covid-19

The schedule before the delay caused by Covid-19 included contractors drilling test wells and crews starting to mobilize this spring, with soil to be excavated in the summer, with drilling and well installation.

The first stage of the thermal treatment system will go in next winter through summer 2021. A second stage of drilling and well installation is planned for the spring-summer 2021 with the second stage of the thermal treatment system to be installed from winter 2021 to summer 2022.

A concrete cover is part of the project during the treatment stage. The concrete will be removed once the treatment is done.

The project will be substantially complete in the winter of 2023, according to the EPA timeline. A final layer of topsoil and grass will be added to complete the project.

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