Gas plant cleanup unveiled by EPA
August 23, 2000
The Environmental Protection Agency described its plan to clean up the former gas plant site behind the St. Augustine police station Tuesday.
The report, which met little opposition, detailed the $7 million plan to remove soil that was contaminated by the old Atlanta Gas and Light plant. The cleanup is being done so a new marina off King Street on the San Sebastian Harbor can be built.
"The city does look forward to a rapid end to this thing so we can get construction under way," said Jack Cubbedge, assistant St. Augustine city manager.
The timeline for the project is for the EPA to complete its public hearings and write an action memo in September. An administrative order should be issued by the EPA in October. The design is slated to be completed by the end of the year, and the project may be finished in 2001. The city plans to begin marina construction in Spring 2001.
"This is an ambitious schedule because the city is anxious to move forward," said EPA official Mark Fite.
The EPA determined there would be health risks, including a risk of cancer, if no action were taken to remove the contaminated soil left by the plant. Marina construction workers, employees of the future development, residents and recreational users of the future facility could get ill from the toxins in the soil.
"They could breathe, touch or eat contaminated soil or sediment," Fite said.
The EPA's recommended soil removal project has four parts.
The first is the excavation of shallow soils to eight feet and the removal of particularly "hot spots" to a depth up to 30 feet. This should remove 99 percent of the contaminated soil. The excavated soil will be taken to a landfill.
The second part of the project is the implementation of institutional controls such as ordinances to prevent well installations for soils with deep stains. The deep-stained soil is 25 to 30 feet underground in an area running northwest from the site to Lorida Street.
The third part of the contamination plan is to institute controls for groundwater. This will include deeds to prevent the installation of groundwater wells. The city already has an ordinance which requires people near the site to connect to the city water supply because it is within 200 feet of existing water lines.
The final part is to remove the sediments that will be dredged from the marina area and take them off-site to be disposed.
"The groundwater and source material that will be left represent a small fraction of contamination," Fite said.
The EPA has a range of different actions it can take with its soil removal plan, from doing nothing at all to more severe measures, such as removing soil and sediments at deeper depths than what was recommended. This plan is based on its effectiveness in reducing health risks, the cost and the feasibility of implementing the plans.
The project will cost $7 million, but Atlanta Gas and Light will pay for most of it. Negotiations are ongoing, but the city expects its share as being about 10 percent of the total costs, said William Pence, city attorney.