The work will likely last between 30 and 60 days.
By JOHN W. GOODWIN Jr.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
GIRARD -- Residents soon will see cleanup equipment at the former Leatherworks property on U.S. Route 422, but the city and company still have unresolved issues in court, and grant money to clean the property remains untouched.
McCabe Engineering of Richfield will begin removing underground drums from the property starting next week. Other underground tanks were taken from the property in 2002 and some metals were removed last year.
Ed McCabe of McCabe Engineering said most of the drums to be removed contain solvents and heavy metals. He said other materials may be in some of the drums, but workers will have to remove them to see what they contain.
McCabe said the project is expected to take between 30 and 60 days. The work may take a little longer, he said, depending on the number of drums buried on the site and what is in the drums.
"[The drums] have been there a long time," McCabe said. "The are really in a deteriorated condition."
The current cleanup efforts are being paid for by the property owners.
Mayor James Melfi said the work is the result of a joint effort between the city and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to get the ball rolling on cleanup issues at the site. A year ago, Melfi asked the property be given top priority in getting the work done.
"I asked for [the property] to be put on the national priority list because of my concern about contamination on the site," Melfi said. "That triggered attention by the EPA to take a look at the site."
According to Melfi, the property suffered an arson fire in 1995. He said the city incurred cost from demolition associated with the fire and the city has been assessing daily fines to the property since that time.
The city has been in litigation with the owners of the property since 1995 over cleanup issues and related cost, Melfi said.
The city four years ago obtained a $180,000 grant from the EPA to be used for testing for environmental hazards on the property. The money cannot be used until all legal issues between the city and the owners have been resolved, Melfi said. The EPA, however, has approved the use of $10,000 of the money in another part of the county.
The EPA has extended the deadline for using the grant money. Melfi said the city has until the cleanup and money issues are actually resolved or talks between both parties breakdown to use the money.
Melfi said, ultimately, he would like to see the property developed.
The potential development of the land, Melfi said, is where the EPA grant will be beneficial. He said the money can be used for testing the land, removal of hazardous material, cleanup and other things approved by the EPA.