SOPA relieved of site cleaning funding obligation

April 22, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

At the last meeting of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, it was announced that SOPA would no longer be the funding agency for a project aimed at cleaning up a portion of the former New Boston Coke Plant.

According to former SOPA Chairman Bill Thacker, conversations have been ongoing for some time with the Ohio Development Services Agency along with the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to, “test a demonstration project at the site of the old New Boston Coke Plant, which is pretty much contaminated. The site has benzene, PCP’s, some coal tar and things of that nature,” Thacker said. “This (demonstration project) is a technology that’s been developed by Patel Institute. In essence it’s a smoldering technology which you would literally burn, underground the pollutants and clean it up that way.”

A few months ago representatives from the organizations involved made a presentation to the SOPA board.

“What we would like to do is implement this pilot project on a portion of this land, to see if this would be feasible on a larger scale and to get this site shovel ready,” said Erin Hazelton, Ohio Development Services Agency. “The EPA has done some work on it (the New Boston site) in the years past and it’s so contaminated that it’s not feasible to dig and haul (away) everything out of there.”

She said this demonstration project is the newest technology that has the best chance of cleaning the site up and the project will be broken up into two phases with the first phase being the gathering of information about the site.

“Phase 2 is when they will put heating elements in the ground and let her rip. Phase 2 of the project will not be started until all of the funding is in place,” Hazelton said. “The good news is that Phase 1 is fully funded.”

During the presentation, it was revealed that the project would cost about $600,000 to complete. All but $157,000 of the project has been covered with a combination of funding from state and federal sources.

The agencies were asking SOPA to come up with the remaining funds.

At the time, the newly appointed SOPA board was cautious about the idea and took a vote. The consensus was to move forward with the project only if funding could be found and SOPA would not have to foot the bill.

Thacker announced to the board last week that SOPA has been removed as a funding agency and the state will proceed with trying to come up with remaining funding.

Hazelton said in an e-mail to Thacker, “We still have that gap to fill for Phase 2. All funding is in place for Phase 1 activities through EPRI and USEPA so we can begin with that…we’ll only begin with Phase 2 after all of the funding has been secured.”

No further timetable was discussed as to when Phase 2 would hope to be started.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.