Mt. Sterling, Ky. (Sept. 7, 2016) – Work began Wednesday to remove and replace the soil at residential properties on Long Lane in Mt. Sterling, Ky., where concentrations of arsenic that require remediation have been found on the former site of a wood-processing plant.
The Division of Waste Management (DWM) is overseeing the efforts of Pecco, Inc., an environmental contracting company, and Shield Environmental Associates Inc., a remediation consulting firm, which began excavation work on two residential properties on Long Lane. As is standard procedure and required by federal occupational law, workers on Wednesday wore protective equipment – Tyvek suits and air purifying respirators. Air monitors were also set up and sprayers were utilized to safeguard residents against any migration of airborne particles.
The contractors will remove contaminated soil and replace residential soil on Long Lane properties back to acceptable levels. Crawlspaces beneath the mobile homes will be evaluated and if they need remediation it will be conducted without moving the mobile home.
So that residents are impacted as little as possible, as each yard is worked on they will be temporarily relocated in hotels or with family, as they prefer. Those temporarily moved are being paid for housing, meals and incidental costs. The up-front reimbursements include lodging and per diem while residents are away from their homes. Security measures are being implemented to protect their belongings while away.
At present, six of the 14 homes in the development have been found to have arsenic levels in soil that require immediate remediation. Remediation of these residential properties is expected to take up to six weeks and make up phase one of the cleanup.
Work on each pair of yards is expected to be accomplished in about 10 days. When completed, residents will return to yards that have clean fill, with grass seed planted or sod put down and trees replaced if necessary. Once the residential cleanup is completed, the efforts will turn to the second phase: the cleanup of adjacent properties. This will begin with a site-wide characterization and evaluation of conditions that could indicate the need for additional remediation.
Any removed soils that are nonhazardous will be taken to the Montgomery County Landfill. Soil determined to be hazardous will be stored in hazardous waste roll-offs, manifested and transported to a designated landfill in compliance with the state’s hazardous waste regulations.
The Division has been at the site since Aug. 24, when a DWM employee discovered that residential properties closest to the site of the former Southern Treatment Co. plant had soil that showed arsenic concentrations that would require an immediate cleanup.
Upon confirmation of the initial readings by a state laboratory two days later, the division that evening sent workers to the site to notify residents of their potential health exposure and to conduct more sampling to determine the scope of the contamination.
The DWM notified state officials, the Montgomery County judge executive and the county health department. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) went to the site in the following days to speak with residents who had questions and concerns about the potential health effects of arsenic exposure.
Citizens were informed to contact Dr. Connie White, at the CHFS, if they have any questions related to the effects of arsenic exposure or whether medical attention is necessary. Arsenic is a known carcinogen. Health officials at CHFS recommend that anyone who feels they may have been exposed to arsenic and wish to be tested, contact their healthcare provider or the Montgomery County Health Department.
Residents at Long Lane were advised, meanwhile, to take steps to minimize their exposure to arsenic until their properties are remediated. These included thoroughly washing hands before eating, especially after being outside for long periods of time or during any DWM soil sampling and keeping doors and windows closed while the work is underway and avoiding exposed dirt.
If residents believe that dust from the soil has gotten into their homes, they are advised to wipe those surfaces with disposable wipes like an all-purpose cleaner or with furniture polish & paper towels.
The DWM has begun the process of contacting the parties deemed responsible for the soil contamination. Concurrent with that process, the agency is immediately proceeding with paying for the cleanup, with the funds currently coming from the state’s Hazardous Waste Management Fund.