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Soil near Lions Park to be sampled for contamination, thanks to Moolenaar

The following is a press release from the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force.

Since 2013, members of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force have sought sampling for soil contamination where a railroad spur led into the former Velsicol Chemical plant site.

Since 2013, members of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force have sought sampling for soil contamination where a railroad spur led into the former Velsicol Chemical plant site.

In 2020, EGLE project manager for the site, Erik Martinson, finalized a work plan with a budget, but the owners of Mid-Michigan Railroad were unresponsive in granting access to the property that runs from the chemical site south along the Lions Park to Crawford Street in St. Louis.

Task Force board member, Jim Hall, contacted U.S. Representative John Moolenaar’s office.  A phone call from aide Ashton Bortz to the owners of the railroad did the trick, and gave EGLE access to sample the soil along the former railroad bed.

“Rail cars were parked for days and weeks along that spur, full of chemicals and leaking,” said Hall, who grew up in St. Louis.

Jane Keon, chairperson of the Task Force, said the timing is important.  “We need to know if the soil along the path of the spur is contaminated while EPA is here cleaning up the rest of the Superfund site,” she said.  “They are unlikely to come back once they finish the major work and leave.”

Martinson said drilling contractors are being contacted now, and the sampling may begin at the end of summer.

The proposed sampling area is about 1200 feet long and 75 feet wide.  A total of 120 soil samples will be taken and submitted for analysis of the full list of volatile organic compounds, including TRIS, PBB, HBB, and for pesticides, including all six of the DDT isomers.

The results will be shared with the Task Force and with EPA.

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