Franklin County Commissioners John Griesheimer and Tim Brinker say the county was not contacted by any federal organizations regarding hazardous waste stored in a warehouse in Berger.
“The only impact it has on us is that the warehouse is in Franklin County,” Brinker said. “We had no idea what was in there and were not made aware of anything by any investigating agencies. It’s all in the hands of those federal agencies.”
A federal indictment against companies from Missouri and Ohio, and their officers, alleges that 9 million pounds of the waste was first dumped in Mississippi before being dug up and illegally transported to Missouri.
At issue is spent sandblasting media waste containing heavy metals created when paint is removed from equipment on military bases.
The used sandblasting media is stored in 55-gallon drums and large sacks inside the warehouse.
Brinker said he toured the warehouse about three years ago as part of a state economic development team working with representatives from Hermann and saw the materials then.
“It was like a ghost warehouse,” Brinker said. “It’s hard to say how much was in there. All I can say is there were a lot of palleted materials.”
Brinker said the facility was being shown to a Chinese consortium.
“They were interested in opening some type of recycling operation,” Brinker said. “It was a big contingency from China.”
According to the federal indictment, the powder-like hazardous remains were required under federal regulations to be recycled.
Investigators alleged instead of properly cleaning the hazardous waste, the material was transported to Berger from October through December 2013.
There was never a permit to move the waste to the facility in Franklin County.
Since the discovery of the waste, concerns have been raised about the warehouse being in the flood plain and its proximity to the Missouri River and Berger Creek.
There is no record of the building ever flooding.
Griesheimer said he was in total shock when he heard about the hazardous waste.
He wants to see a quick disposition on this issue and hopes the materials are removed and the site is cleaned safely.
“When state and federal agencies are involved, they are in control,” Griesheimer said. “All we (county) can do is sit and wait. The owners will have to have their day in court.”
He added he was in the building decades ago when it was inhabited by a different company, but had no recent contact other than driving by it frequently when checking county roads.
“The county approved the rezoning of the building years ago to store stuff in there,” Griesheimer said. “There have been several proposals to sell the building and we’d certainly love to see the building utilized.”