Environmental reports reveal contamination at Jackson Street building

Environmental reports reveal contamination at Jackson Street building

Source: http://www.therepublic.com, March 10, 2019
By: Julie McClure

Soil borings at a Jackson Street property the Columbus parks department hopes to purchase as a storage building show chemical contamination in soil and groundwater by substances that could have leaked from underground storage tanks there.

Columbus parks director Mark Jones said parks officials continue to examine the Phase I and Phase II environmental reports from Indianapolis-based Ark Engineering Services in preparation to talk to the property owner about remediation before a possible sale of the building to the city.

The environmental testing was initiated by the city after it learned that the property, at 1360 Jackson St., the site of the former Machinery Moving Inc., had three underground fuel storage tanks installed between 1972 and 1976.

The property is owned by Norma Lienhoop, aunt of Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, who has recused himself from all negotiations or work about the project, Jones said in an earlier interview.

While state records indicate those tanks were removed in 1989, Jones said engineers could find no local documentation that confirmed their removal from the property.

Machinery Moving Inc., an industrial rigging facility, set up small and large heavy machinery at off-site factories and manufacturing facilities. Operations included transportation and storage of various types of machinery until early 2018.

In an executive summary provided by Ark, company officials said they did six soil borings to collect soil and groundwater samples, and collected wipe samples within the interior of the buildings to “evaluate for the presence and/or absence of chemical impacts to building surfaces associated with historic site maintenance and storage operations.”

Ark reported that the soil showed chemical impacts exceeding the Indiana Department of Environmental Management Remediation Closure Guide, Residential Migration to Groundwater Screening Levels and Residential Direct Contact Screening Levels for several petroleum hydrocarbon constituents. These included benzene, ethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, xylenes, 1-methylnaphthalene, 2-methylnaphthalene and naphthalene.

Petroleum hydrocarbon substances in the form of benzene, 1-methylnaphthalene, 2-methylnaphthalene and naphthalene were found in groundwater in amounts that exceeded IDEM’s Residential Screening Levels, the report stated. Benzene was also found exceeding IDEM Residential Vapor Exposure Screening Levels, the report stated.

The wipe samples did not reveal chemical contamination that exceeded applicable IDEM screening parameters, the company said.

Ark officials said the soil contamination was found in two soil borings, and the groundwater contamination in one soil boring in the presumed area where the company may have had the underground storage tanks, the document states.

“Based on the results of this limited investigation, both soil and groundwater impacts do not appear to be widespread and appear to be limited to the area of the historic USTs, (underground storage tanks),” the report states.

“Although this area of impact is not widespread, additional investigation will be necessary to fully characterize the nature and horizontal extent” of the contamination, the report states.

Ark recommended the city report the test results to IDEM and consult with the state agency to determine the need for additional mitigation about what was found in the soil and groundwater.

The former Machinery Moving Inc. site consists of two, single-story vacant office and warehouse buildings, with an asphalt and gravel parking lot and landscaping on three parcels of land, taking up just over 2 acres, according to the city.

Ark said in its report that the company historically operated at least three underground tanks, including one for 2,000 gallons of gasoline, one with a capacity of 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel and another for 550 gallons of diesel fuel.

The investigation into the Jackson Street property began after local resident Ken Fudge expressed concern that the building might contain PCBs, widely considered a cancer-causing carcinogen.

The first environmental assessment from the engineering services company stated “potential PCB concerns do not appear to be present” at the building.

Mark Levett, park board president, has repeatedly said the city doesn’t intend to use taxpayer money for any environmental remediation, and Jones confirmed on Thursday that position has not changed.

“If any cleanup is required, that will be a key part of the next negotiation,” Jones said.

Jones explained in an earlier interview that the parks department was interested in the property because it is more centrally located for storing mowers and other equipment rather than using storage at the Columbus Municipal AirPark on the north side of the city.

Terms of the proposed deal call for the city to pay for the property over six years, making a $50,000 payment from its cash reserve fund the first year and then making $50,000 annual payments for a total of $250,000 from city capital funds. The property owner offered the payment option, which Jones said was better for the city due to cash flow and cash reserves.

What is benzene?

Benzene a colorless volatile liquid hydrocarbon present in coal tar and petroleum, and used in chemical synthesis. Its use as a solvent has been reduced because of its carcinogenic properties.

It is a widely-used industrial chemical. Benzene is found in crude oil and is a major part of gasoline. It’s also used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.

— Source: chemicalsafetyfacts.org/benzene/

What’s next

The Columbus Parks and Recreation Board will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Columbus City Council chambers at City Hall.

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