City reaches settlement for gas station cleanup
A project to clean a contaminated site downtown is wrapping up as the city agreed to settle lawsuits dating back nearly 15 years.
Settlements were reached with Aquila, Kirkham Michael, Black Hills and other entities related to the contaminated site near First and Market streets.
The Beatrice City Council approved the settlements Monday night, in which Beatrice will be compensated $650,000 for the project, well short of what was spent cleaning the area.
“As anybody who’s been following this knows we’ve spent quite a bit of time researching that area and then ultimately cleaning it up, first with the EPA and then with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality,” said City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer. “…To just remind everybody the City of Beatrice has spent $2.4 million on this project to date. Our cash reserves decreased approximately $900,000 over the last two years largely due to this project.”
Funds from the settlements will be used to build the city’s cash reserves back up.
The city started cleaning up the coal tar—a byproduct of gasification—that leeched out into the ground last year.
The city has worked with the EPA since 2008 to monitor and test the soil.
An agreement signed between the city and Centel said the city would take on 25 percent of the cost to clean the land and Centel would pay 75 percent.
The cleanup expanded beyond the area and required railroad tracks to be removed and replaced so the soil underneath could be cleaned.
The area is now green space, though minor monitoring of the area will continue indefinitely at a minimal cost.
“Fees and expenses for this project have decreased greatly,” Tempelmeyer said. “You’ve gotten rid of all the equipment and dirt and now you’re down to drilling some holes and looking at groundwater.”