St. Francois County has received a clean bill of health from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on their Maple Street property in Farmington where the old county barn used to be located.
After the road and bridge department moved out to their new location on Woodlawn Drive, Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins said the county dealt with the decontamination and cleanup from years of use by the road and bridge department. The property will soon be put on the real estate market to be sold.
“This property was purchased in 1955 for $300,” he said. “We can’t just put it on the real estate books because there were some contamination issues. Since 1955 it was the road and bridge facility.
“Back in the 70s and into the 80s we used leftover lead-contaminated tailings to help with snow removal and snow traction. The property had arsenic, lead-contaminated soil, fuel and waste oil contamination. You can’t sell a piece of property like that because those issues do need to be addressed.”
To properly address the contamination issues, Mullins began working with the DNR to prepare the multiple environmental reports required by law.
“I entered into an agreement with the DNR, the brownfield/voluntary cleanup section,” he said. “Using their rules and some of their monies in the form of a grant process, they gave us direction and steered us on the correct path. We received a total cost of $15,365 in the form of a grant for services rendered by DNR.”
With the original environmental reports indicating contamination problems, Mullins had to bring in an environmental consultant to determine the severity of pollution and design a remediation solution for the property.
“In 2017 we put out a request for proposal for an environment engineering company,” he said. “We received one from Smith and Company, which we do work with on bridges which worked out well because we have those contacts established. They did the reports and we found that we could do the work ourselves.”
The road and bridge department tore down the existing buildings and recycled some of the material. The steel beams from the old buildings were cut up and taken to the salvage yard. The county received about $5,600 for the metal scrap.
The existing contaminated soil had to be removed to a depth of 3 feet overall and 10 feet deep where the fueling tanks were located. The road and bridge department hauled 1,188 truckloads of soil to the EPA depository near Desloge. Mullins stressed that sending the soil to the EPA altered how the project was completed.
“The EPA was in on this on the back side,” he said. “We needed to truck this contaminated soil somewhere. We had to do this in a safe, environmental way. I asked EPA if we could truck it over to their repository in Desloge. They did not charge us to accept the waste, [otherwise] we were looking at taking this soil and depositing it on some acreage behind the sheriff’s department.
“It would have been easy, but it would have been just kicking the can down the road. We would have had to build an EPA-regulated silt fence around that property, and we would have to deal with that problem again some years down the road.”
Mullins explained that the next major cost was hauling in clean soil to replace all of the contamination that had been removed. Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher proposed a less expensive work-around for the fill work. Instead of expensive soil, the road and bridge department hauled in 1,021 loads of waste rock from a local quarry.
“You have to fill that back in,” Mullins said. “We were looking at having to add clean soil. Harold [Gallaher] asked if we could we use rock instead of soil. After the DNR accepted the plan, Highway Superintendent Clay Copeland and Highway Administrator John Gross of the road and bridge department went to the area quarries and asked about waste rock. Central Stone said that they had more waste rock than we would need. They charged us $5 a load to come across their scale. We had to use that scale ticket as proof of that load for DNR.”
The environmental engineering company estimated that contractors would charge about $604,000 to complete the remediation project for the Maple Street location. With the approved alternate plans, the sale of metal scrap, and with the road and bridge department completing all phases of the project, the cost to the county was about $51,570.
Mullins praised Copeland and Gross and the road and bridge department for saving the county more than a half million dollars.
“Hats off to the men at the road and bridge department and Clay [Copeland] and John [Gross],” he said.
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.