Cleanup of former St. Louis chemical plant site continues - WNEM TV 5

Cleanup of former St. Louis chemical plant site continues

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ST. LOUIS, MI (WNEM) -

Environmental agencies have worked to clean up the highly-toxic former home of a chemical company in a multi-million-dollar effort. Now, we’re getting a summer update on the efforts.

“I used to live downstream from the plant when it was operating there and in the morning where the river smelled like a swimming pool because of all the chemicals that had been released overnight,” Jane Keon said.

Contamination from decade’s past still haunt the people of St. Louis.

“We could see the turtles and fish dying, so we were way past that now. Still a lot of be done downstream but were working on it,” Keon said.

Thursday evening's public meeting addressed the 44-year long problem with the Veliscol Chemical Corporation superfund site.

It operated until 1978, producing tons of harmful chemicals over the years, poisoning the land, water, wildlife, and people who lived near the site.

Ever since, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to clean up the mess.

“We are going to use electricity to heat the soil at the site,” said Tom Alcamo with the EPA.

Alcamo said the system was purchased with $9.7 million in funding approved by the EPA.

“You heat it to the boiling point of water 112 Fahrenheit. With that you produce steam and you boil off the chemicals,” Alcamo said.

Keon said she’s been following this from the beginning and feels this is a positive step forward.

“I think it's a great plan. We know the DVCP is very bad for people and the fact that they’re destroying it underground rather than digging it up and releasing it into the air is a good idea,” she said.

Construction will start soon and the actual heating process is expected to begin this January.

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