Environmental crews will soon begin clean up at a 43 acre industrial site in downtown Des Moines that was contaminated with toxic chemicals and metals.
Owners of the former DICO plant where dairy equipment, wheels and brakes, and then pesticides were made fought for years against hefty EPA fines. In a final agreement, the City of Des Moines will take ownership and lead the clean up.
“It sat for 38 years,” Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said. “Year after year, decade after decade – a frustrating reminder of the inactivity brought about by monumental environmental challenges, lengthy legal action and a lot of red tape.”
Cownie said clean up could be finished by the end of the year at the site, which he described as “the doorstep of growth and greatness for the City of Des Moines.”
The site is about a mile west the Iowa Cubs’ ballpark. The CEO of the company that owns the Kum and Go convenience store chain has proposed building a stadium for a professional soccer team on the site. Titan Tire, which acquired DICO in 1993, will pay millions in fines and donate the property to the City of Des Moines. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be in charge of demolishing and disposing of three contaminated buildings. EPA Administrator Michael Regan was at the site yesterday.
“The city has been suffering with this blight for decades and at EPA, we know that it’s not just about the clean up,” Regan said. “It’s about what’s to come after.”
The EPA will also install a groundwater system to monitor chemicals in the soil. Early estimates indicate the City of Des Moines will spend $750,000 on clean up. The price tag for the proposed soccer stadium is $550 million.