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Wichita will have money for cleanup of one pollution site by 2042, avoiding Superfund status

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at 6:02 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, July 7, 2013, at 9:54 a.m.

The city will have the money to complete one of two major groundwater pollution remediation projects downtown, officials told the City Council on Tuesday.

City public works officials updated the progress of the Gilbert & Mosley and North Industrial Corridor groundwater pollution remediation projects, long-term plans that won’t be complete until 2042 and 2080, respectively. Both sites were contaminated by industrial solvents and petroleum decades ago.

The Gilbert & Mosley site runs from Second Street south to 31st Street South, and from Hydraulic west to the Arkansas River. The North Industrial Corridor runs from Second Street north to 45th Street North, and from Hydraulic west to Market and Waco.

The key, said public works director Alan King and his deputy Don Henry, is that it appears the city will have the money to complete the Gilbert & Mosley project. The city projects to raise $81million to cover the total $80.9 million Gilbert & Mosley remediation cost by 2042. The money would come from environmental tax increment financing, which captures tax revenue recovered by avoiding Superfund status and saving the land from falling property values, and from settlements from the polluters.

Superfund is a federal program to clean up the worst pollution sites in the nation.

Project budgets are incomplete on the North Industrial Corridor project, which is being contracted for design.

“If the city doesn’t step in, then EPA will list us on their Superfund cleanup sites,” King said. “Then, property owners will be subject to the cleanup costs, property values will plummet and tax revenues will decrease. It’s a significant economic situation for those properties.

“This puts in place a program to clean up the contamination, and it protects the value of these properties.”

Henry also said that avoiding Superfund status for Gilbert & Mosley through the implementation of the long-term remediation plan will generate $41.8 million in tax revenue for the city’s general and debt service funds, revenue that would have been lost if the included properties were devalued by a Superfund designation.

In the North Industrial Corridor, the city stands to take in $44.4 million by avoiding the devaluation of a Superfund site designation.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @bwilsoneagle.

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