Junction makes final payment for lead cleanup

March 12, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

JUNCTION CITY - The city's share of lead cleanup costs from a Superfund site will soon be paid up. The final settlement was $3,236 - that's on top of about $14,000 in fees for an environmental attorney.

After the City Council voted Thursday to cut the check, Mayor G.G. Harmon said, "That's history."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used federal Superfund dollars to clean up lead contamination left from a factory that recycled lead from car and light industry batteries in the 1950s and 1960s. The area was in a one-fourth mile radius of Jones Lane and April Drive.

The EPA found lead levels there as high as 4,210 parts per million. As a comparison, officials tested soil along U.S. 127 and found it to have 31.6 ppm.

The federal program requires that the cleanup costs be recouped from landowners and responsible parties. The city owned Burke Street, a virtually abandoned alleyway that isn't even drawn on maps anymore but is in the area where lead was found.


The city split the cleanup cost with Mike Curtis, who paid $2,280, and Dixie Paving, $2,000. Curtis owned the land there where houses were built, and Dixie Paving had done some excavating on the site.

A local resident found the lead chips when she was tilling a garden.

Council members blamed the hefty attorney fees for a large part of its debt problems that led it to take out a $100,000 line of credit from local banks.

At Monday's meeting, council members voted to make a $10,000 payment on the remaining $93,000 debt. Council member Roberta Zeller made the motion, saying that the city had the money. There was $71,000 in the general fund.

Earlier the council said the city couldn't afford a heating and air conditioning unit for the community center, and voted not to accept any of the bids that it had requested. The bids ranged from $4,500 to $7,500.

"I just don't see that we have the money," council member Jim Douglas said.

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