Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:36PM - 259 Views

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Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

At the last Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) a multi-agency presentation was given about a proposed project for the site of the former New Boston Coke Plant.

According to Bill Thacker, SOPA Acting Chairman, a vote was taken of the SOPA board members and the consensus was to move forward with the project only if funding could be found and SOPA would not have to foot the bill.

“We conducted an online and a telephone poll vote and just got the results in. The agreement was that we would participate on the condition that the contracts were amended to give us (SOPA) a clear out, with no financial responsibility, incase the project is not fully funded,” Thacker said.

According to Thacker, 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, which is pretty much contaminated. The site has benzene, PCP’s, some coal tar and things of that nature,” Thacker said. “This (demonstration project) is a technology that’s been developed by Patel Institute. In essence it’s a smoldering technology which you would literally burn, underground the pollutants and clean it up that way.”

He said if the technology works, it would cut the cost of remediation.

During the presentation it, was revealed that the project would cost about $600,000 to complete. All but $157,000 of the project has been covered with a combination of funding from state and federal sources.

“What we would like to do is implement this pilot project on a portion of this land, 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.”

She said this demonstration project is the newest technology that has the best chance of cleaning the site up and that the project will be broken up into two phases with the first phase being the gathering of information about the site.

“Phase 2 is when they will put heating elements in the ground and let her rip. Phase 2 of the project will not be started until all of the funding is in place,” Hazelton said. “The good news is that Phase 1 is fully funded.”

She said the project is on a timeline with the seasons.

“For this project to work, we need to have Phase 1 activities completed by July so, we can start and complete Phase 2 at a time of the year when it’s the driest,” Hazelton said.

She asked the group to make a decision on if they would like to proceed with the project because of seasonal restrictions and gave the group two weeks to make a final determination.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com.

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