Bad Soil Contained to Corner No Reason to Delay Building Metea Valley, Dist. 204 Says
Byline: Justin Kmitch
For more than a month, Indian Prairie Unit District 204 board members have claimed the future Eola Road site of Metea Valley High School is safe.
Monday evening, the district's environmental experts, armed with several inches of environmental analysis, backed them up.
Three managers from Testing Service Corp. told board members and parents that only the northeastern 15.5 acres of the 87-acre tract, just south of Diehl Road, contained areas contaminated with diesel fuel and PCB contaminants.
The contaminated soil, though it needs to be remediated, will not delay construction of the third high school.
Board members have had copies of the report since early March, but a confidentiality agreement with Midwest Generation prohibited them from sharing the Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental site assessments until Monday night.
Brian Walker, a Testing Service section manager, said the first phase of the assessments reviewed the site's history and uses with the help of federal, state and local environmental agency records and interviews with local people familiar with the site.
"From as early as we could tell, predating the 1900s, the property was mostly farmland and used for agricultural purposes," Walker said. "Commonwealth Edison bought the site in 1969 and developed the northeast corner into an electrical peaker system and a lineman's training facility."
Midwest Generation purchased the site in 1999 and continued using the site as a peaker plant facility, using natural gas and burning fuel oil to generate energy on an as-needed basis. The plant was decommissioned in 2004 and is now being dismantled.
According to the consultant's report, fuel spills were reported at the plant in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2002. The largest was a 2002 spill, caused by human error, that saw 10,500 gallons of diesel fuel spill from the peaker unit, through the waste oil drain system and into a retention pond. Approximately 8,000 gallons were removed from the pond.
Based on those recorded spills and the likelihood that contamination occurred at the site, Walker said Phase 2 studies were recommended for the site housing the peaker plant. The remaining 71.5 acres were found to have no environmental contamination.
Steve Heuer, the group's section manager for the second phase of studies, said that as recently as February, 90 soil samples were taken in and around the plant location and six ground water monitoring wells were installed.
The samples were analyzed for contaminants commonly associated with electricity plants, including diesel fuel, transformer oil, anti-freeze and other volatile compounds including pesticides.
According to the report, five soil samples in four areas were deemed contaminated with diesel fuel and transformer oil and in need of remediation. …