City, state ask Madison-Kipp to replace tainted soil in rain garden

City, state ask Madison-Kipp to replace tainted soil in rain garden

Source: The Wisconsin State Journal, November 5, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The city and state want Madison-Kipp to remove tainted soil from a large drainage ditch between the company and Capital City Bike Trail.

The city-owned “rain garden,” created in 2006 and planted with prairie plants to filter runoff, showed high levels of PCBs in tests last year, and the city and state Department of Natural Resources now want the East Side company to remove the top few feet of soil and replace it with clean soil. Kipp has agreed.

All entities say, “Let’s get rid of this,” said John Hausbeck of Public Health Madison-Dane County.

The city and Kipp minimized immediate health threats but said it’s prudent to remove the soils.

“Those using the bike path generally would not be exposed to what’s going on in the ditch,” Hausbeck said.

Mark Meunier, the company’s vice president of human resources, added, “No one goes in the rain garden. It doesn’t pose an immediate health hazard to anyone. We were asked, ‘Will you dig it out?’ That will be done shortly.”

Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, who represents the area, called the remediation plan “good news.”

City, DNR and Kipp officials, who met Monday, are now deciding the best plan to remove the soil, Hausbeck and Meunier said.

The action is the latest involving Kipp, the city, DNR and homeowners. A federal judge last week approved the second of two class-action settlements reached between the company and two groups of neighbors of the vehicle parts manufacturer that total $7.2 million. A state environmental lawsuit, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the DNR, is pending.

The test in the rain garden didn’t find elevated levels of the human carcinogen tetrachlorothylene, or PCE, found elsewhere in the area. But it did find levels above industrial standards of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, no longer made in the United States but found in the environment. PCBs can cause acne-like skin conditions in adults and neurobehavioral and immunological changes in children, and are known to cause cancer in animals.

The 10-by-180-foot rain garden, across the bike path from Goodman Community Center, is a stormwater drainage ditch that leads to Starkweather Creek. The bike path was a former rail corridor. The rain garden captures runoff from the bike path and Kipp’s north parking lot.

Typically, PCBs tend to stick in soils, and elevated levels found several feet below the surface may have occurred when the rain garden was created, Hausbeck said. PCB levels were slightly above a residential standard but below industrial levels further toward Starkweather Creek, he said.

Although rain garden soils were tested in June 2012, the city and state have been focusing on addressing soil vapors that posed potential health hazards in houses, Hausbeck said. With progress made on the vapors problem, attention has moved to removing PCBs in the rain garden, he said.

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