Thursday, December 23, 2010

Small Illinois Plot of Land Harbors Big Environmental Contaminants

by Duane Craig

Environmental contamination at Galesburg
Gas Light & Coke Co
A 400-square-foot piece of land in Galesburg, Illinois, harbors contaminants left over from a gas production operation dating back to the 1860s. A company called Galesburg Gas Light & Coke Co., left behind coal tar waste from its operations and the soil reportedly contains zinc, arsenic, lead and cyanide. A lawsuit filed against Ameren, current owners of the land and a public utility company operating in the state, claims other substances such as benzene, tuolene, xylenes and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, among other substances, are also in the ground on the 3-acre site.

Ameren was originally going to remove the contaminated soil but recently has come up with a new technique that sequesters the pollutants by encasing them in concrete. The plan is to “bore the ground with concrete mixture” that will bind the contaminants in place. The company says it will test the concrete for the extent of its impermeability so there is assurance that ground water will not move through it but rather around it. The neighbors that have sued Ameren claim the new technique is unproven and that the company is only pursuing it because it is significantly cheaper than removing the contaminants.

Read the whole Environmental Contaminants story here and background on the lawsuit here.

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