PDT Staff Writer
Conversations have been ongoing with the Ohio Development Services Agency along with the U.S. and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test a demonstration project at the site of the old New Boston Coke Plant; that is until this week. After months of talk, the Ohio Development Services Agency recently sent a letter to Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) Chairman Todd Book saying they have pulled funding from the project citing a lack of sufficient progress on the project.
“Due to a series of delays and pitfalls with establishing appropriate funding for the project, Development has determined that this project has not made sufficient progress to qualify for funding under this program,” said Thea Walsh, deputy chief of Redevelopment Ohio Development Services. “This decision follows the decisions of USEPA and EPRI to withdraw their financial commitment and partnership in this project.”
Walsh stated in the letter dated July 26, the Ohio Development Services Agency has withdrawn its commitment of $200,000 towards the New Boston Coke smoldering technology pilot project.
Earlier this year, representatives from some of the organizations involved the pilot project made a presentation to the SOPA board.
“What we would like to do is implement this pilot project on a portion of this land (in New Boston), to see if this would be feasible on a larger scale and to get this site shovel ready,” said Erin Hazelton, Ohio Development Services Agency. “The EPA has done some work on it (the New Boston site) in the years past and it’s so contaminated that it’s not feasible to dig and haul (away) everything out of there.”
Hazelton said said this demonstration project is the newest technology that has the best chance of cleaning the site up and the project will be broken up into two phases with the first phase being the gathering of information about the site.
During Hazelton’s earlier presentation, it was revealed that the project would cost around $600,000 to complete. All but $157,000 of the project has been covered with a combination of funding from state and federal sources.
Those involved at the time were asking SOPA to come up with the remaining funding.
At the time, the SOPA board was cautious about the idea. The consensus of the SOPA Board was to move forward with the project only if funding could be found and SOPA would not have to foot the bill. However, with the latest removal of funding, the project has been set back significantly and now is all together in question.
In the letter Walsh encouraged SOPA to reapply for future projects.
“We appreciate SOPA’s continued efforts to remediate this highly contaminated site so that it is a benefit, instead of a liability, to future generations and welcome future collaborations. Development recognizes that investments in brownfield redevelopment are difficult; however, they are also an important factor in attracting and retaining business in Ohio. We encourage future opportunities for brownfield funding on this or other properties in Scioto County,” Walsh stated.
At the Thursday meeting of the SOPA Board, members were disappointed in the news and asked if the federal government was an option for funding the project. Book said it could be a possibility and would seek the advise of others.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.