The former owner of the Chamberlain Manufacturing site in Waterloo has been ordered to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater. The former ammunition plant occupies a 23 acre site in a residential area near downtown Waterloo. Chamberlain employed more than 800 people during the Vietnam War. The plant was shut down in the mid-1990s and acquired by the City of Waterloo in 2005.
Chris Whitley, with the Environmental Protection Agency, says the order also requires the company to provide ventilation systems to nearby homeowners. “There is some indication that there may be vapor intrusion occurring in homes,” Whitley said. “As a precaution, we believe it is a prudent thing…to offer vapor mitigation systems.” Whitley says longterm exposure could cause severe lung problems and cancer.
Chamberlain’s parent company is Duchossois Industries based in Illinois. Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark says the company is cooperating. “I think it’s a very positive step,” Clark said of the EPA order. “While we’ve got a very good relationship with Duchossois and we expect to continue that, this order really kind of gets all of us off dead center and requires some action to be taken which was a good step.”
Whitley says it’s still too soon to determine how long the cleanup will take and how much it will cost. “The initial steps of this is for the former owners to (begin) assessing the level of contamination that’s present. You really have to do that first before you start making additional decisions,” Whitley said. The E.P.A. will hold a public forum in Waterloo in the coming weeks to explain the order.