By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Cleaning up the contaminated beryllium site in Luckey is expected to cost $244 million and take up to 12 years to complete.
“It will be one of the larger in the nation,” David Romano, deputy district engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers, said of the Luckey project.
Removal of contaminated soil and possibly structures from the 40-acre site is expected to start late this year or next year.
Representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the cleanup, met with the Wood County Commissioners on Tuesday. The cleanup of the site at the corner of Luckey Road and Ohio 582, is part of the federally funded Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program.
Between 1949 and 1958, the Luckey site was operated as a beryllium production facility by the Brush Beryllium Company (later Brush Wellman) under contract to the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1951, the site received approximately 1,000 tons of radioactively contaminated scrap steel, to be used in proposed magnesium production at the site.
The Corps of Engineers has identified beryllium, lead, radium, thorium, and uranium as problems in the soil. The cleanup calls for the excavation and off-site disposal of FUSRAP-contaminated materials. The excavated soils will be shipped off-site for disposal at a facility licensed to take such hazardous materials.
Groundwater wells near the site are being sampled annually for beryllium, lead, uranium and gross alpha/beta until sampling results show a progressive trend that indicates safe drinking water standards have been met. During the site soils remedial action, more frequent monitoring will be conducted.
The cost estimate of $244 million is much higher than the original estimate of $60 million to clean up the site. The cost increase is attributed to:
- An increase in the estimated volume of contaminated soil.
- Extending the projected contaminated soil footprint beneath at least two unoccupied site buildings, which would require removal to fully address the soil contamination.
- Re-examining and increasing the cost for several work items based on lessons learned from other FUSRAP remedial actions and updated cost data.
A public meeting was held last month to explain the cleanup plan to neighbors of the site. Romano said several public meetings are expected to keep the public up-to-date as the plan progresses.
“So we move through the project in a very transparent way,” Romano said.
Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said citizens have several questions about the cleanup.
“There are all kinds of consumers that have questions,” like how will the contaminated soil be removed and where will it go, she said.
Romano said the exact transportation and disposal plan is still early in its planning. But he assured that safety is the primary goal.
“We take that very seriously, in terms of safety of humans and the environment,” he said. The Army Corps of Engineers has a “significant health and safety protocol.”
Once the plan is finalized, Romano said the Army Corps of Engineers will be “completely transparent” about where the contaminated soil is being sent.
Romano added that the traffic leaving the Luckey site will likely be lower than some expected. He projected fewer than a dozen trucks a day removing soil from the property.
Herringshaw voiced concerns about the impact on roads from heavy trucks leaving the site.
“I understand your concerns,” Romano said. “It’s a significant project.”