Urban Renewal Authority Plagued by Toxic Waste Dump in Central City Industrial Park

Article excerpt

A toxic waste dump located in the Central City Industrial Park is presenting problems for the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority and its plans for developing the area.

While the authority is prepared to develop the site into an industrial park, full development will have to wait until the toxic dump is cleaned and decontaminated, Urban Renewal Director Tiana Douglas recently told the Oklahoma City Planning Commission.

"We're all ready to go forth and develop the industrial park," Douglas said. "Unfortunately, we have found ourselves the proud owners of a toxic waste dump.

"A barrel company cleaned barrels for a "zillion' years there, and we unwittingly bought the problem."

The "problem" has cost the authority about $2.6 million to date, according to Jack Bagby, spokesman for the Urban Renewal Authority.

That cost includes acquiring the 124-acre site along with the cost of relocating utility lines. The site will eventually have about 12 to 14 buildings located on it, according to previous reports, although Douglas said in a later interview that no definite plans have been developed yet.

The barrel company previously located on the site was Alpha Industrial Products, a drum washing operation which had complaints registered against it as far back as 1973, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health and the authority.

The 75-by-140-foot contaminated site is fenced-off from the public, but concerns about the contaminated soil continue.

The Urban Renewal Authority has already conducted several studies on the problem. One of the most recent was a study conducted by a Dr. Ahmed Eid of Tulsa.

However, his findings, in a preliminary report dated October 1985, were deemed not acceptable to health department officials in charge of the site.

Another firm, Stanley Engineering of Oklahoma City, has since been retained by the authority to study the toxic site, according to Douglas.

Stanley's $25,000 contract with the authority will have to be approved at the next meeting of the board overseeing authority actions, with that meeting currently scheduled for April 16.

According to the health department, the site contains "rather high" concentrations of trichorethylene and trichloroethane, both of which are contaminates found in solvents used as "degreasing" materials.

The materials are dangerous to humans if they are absorbed into the skin or ingested in some way, according to Dr. Dwayne Farley, chief of the Waste Management Division of the state health department.

The materials could also be dangerous if they contaminated the groundwater supply, Farley said. Previous samples taken at the Central City site showed no contamination, although the tests were not accepted by the health department.

Farley said the methods used by the Tulsa consultant to arrive at his findings were not acceptable to his department.

"We had problems with the protocol and the completeness of the documentation," Farley said. "The environmental people felt that the procedures weren't done properly. We said "hey guys, this isn't going to cut it.' We just never had an analysis submitted that we could accept. We found the procedures weren't properly done on it."

Overall, there is "no" danger to humans, Douglas stressed, but added there is a problem in getting the land cleaned up in order to allow the progression of construction on the industrial park. …