Beatrice, Centel Apply to State’s Voluntary Program to Clean Up Former Gas Plant Site
On August 25, the City of Beatrice and Centel jointly applied to the Nebraska Voluntary Cleanup Program to clean up environmental contamination from an old former manufactured gas plant.
The former gas plant is located on the east bank of the Big Blue River in downtown Beatrice, partly on private land and partly on a vacated portion of Front Street owned by the City. The gas plant was operated by a predecessor of Centel. The City and Centel conducted an engineering evaluation and analysis of cleanup alternatives under the federal Superfund Removal program. The evaluation confirmed the presence of mobile liquid naphthalene, benzene, and other contaminants in soil, groundwater, river sediment, and surface water that continue to be released from the site. Because cleanup under the Superfund Removal program does not include long term actions such as groundwater cleanup, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) requested additional cleanup actions be performed.
In 2014, NDEQ began meeting with the City and Centel about performing all of the cleanup actions under the State Voluntary Cleanup Program. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also began taking steps to list the site on the Superfund National Priorities List, which is the list of national cleanup priorities throughout the country that are addressed by the Superfund Remedial program.
The Superfund Remedial program takes a more traditional, enforcement-based approach to cleanup, typically resulting in longer timeframes to complete the cleanup and higher federal and state oversight costs. The state program is voluntary, but the cleanup standards are equivalent to federal program. In contrast to the Superfund program, the Nebraska Voluntary Cleanup Program is administered completely by the state. The applicants have the responsibility (under close state oversight) to complete the investigation, determine the best cleanup option, and conduct the cleanup actions. The state program is more streamlined and efficient, requiring fewer documents to be submitted for review and approval, resulting in shorter timeframes to complete the cleanup and lower state oversight costs. Although NDEQ remains in communication with EPA regarding cleanup progress of Nebraska Voluntary Cleanup sites, there is no direct EPA oversight, allowing federal resources to be used elsewhere.
Besides reducing the oversight and reporting costs, NDEQ will also be working to identify other possible forms of assistance that can be used toward the cleanup.
NDEQ reports Nebraska Voluntary Cleanup Program participation and cleanup progress to the public on our website, http://deq.ne.gov. The direct link to the Voluntary Cleanup page is http://deq.ne.gov/NDEQProg.nsf/OnWeb/VCP.
Currently, there are 22 sites in the program. Under state oversight, seventeen sites have been cleaned up and completion letters issued through the end of 2014.