The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission voted today (Monday) to approve a contract with the E-P-A for the cleanup at the site of a former Sergeant Bluff tannery. Bob Drustrup of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the cleanup could cost over two-million dollars with the state paying 10-percent.
Drustrup says the MidAmerica Tanning company site went on the E-P-A’s superfund cleanup list in the late 1980’s. He says it was a tannery and they became a superfund site because of concerns of how they handled their waste sludge that was high in chromium. Drustrup says, “Shortly after they were listed on the national priority list of superfund sites they went out of business. They were an Oriental company that left the country with no trace.”
Drustrup says the E-P-A decided to put all the sludge in one place and cover it up. Drustrup says because of the concerns over the two sludge lagoons releasing massive amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas, the decision was made to put a cover over the lagoons and leave the sludge in place. Once the site was capped, it was taken off the superfund list.
But, Drustrup says the site drew attention again when some material leaked out last summer. Drustrup says the release didn’t result in any major environmental damage, but he says it did bring to light the tentative nature of the lagoons and the possibility of a release of the sludge.
Drustrup says joining with the E-P-A is a good way to have the sludge removed. He says removing the sludge will keep the state from having to deal with any more problems. The E-P-C’s action approves the E-P-A contract and the D-N-R will now ask the legislature to provide the state’s 10-percent of the cleanup funds.