New Haven officials hope a settlement reached between Kellwood, the company that formerly operated a camping equipment manufacturer in the city, and the state and federal governments will advance efforts to clean up a hazardous chemical spill linked to contaminated soil and groundwater there.
On Friday, July 6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources filed a lawsuit seeking roughly $27,000 in damages from Kellwood and a ruling making the company responsible for all future cleanup costs.
The company reached a settlement late Tuesday afternoon, after The Missourian went to press, according to a release from the EPA.
Steve Roth, New Haven city administrator, said the settlement includes a statement of work which outlines what Kellwood is expected to do.
“What they’re going to do is, in summary, use recovery wells,” Roth said. “There are existing ones and some new ones proposed.”
The recovery wells attempt to pump the hazardous chemical out of the ground.
That chemical, tetrachloroethyelene, or PCE, is a solvent used to clean metal.
It was dumped into the city sewer system in 1985.
New Haven previously was the headquarters for American Recreation Products, a Kellwood division. The company operated a metal fabrication plant there from 1973-1985.
After the plant closed, former employees admitted to dumping PCE.
The chemical leaked into the soil and groundwater, contaminating several wells, including two now-sealed public drinking water wells.
The area was declared a federal superfund site in 2000 and divided into six operable units. Kellwood has been made responsible for operable units 2 and 6.
PCE is considered a likely carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent, and has been linked to several other health issues.
“We do feel obviously this settlement is a form of progress. It’s clear now what the remedy will be and what Kellwood has agreed to,” Roth said. “The city, people and effected property owners do have something now that’s clear and we know what the end game is. Hopefully we can go from there.”
The new recovery wells will be situated “north and west of the former Kellwood facility,” according to the document from the EPA.
“It doesn’t appear they’re proposing to excavate the site,” Roth told The Missourian Thursday.
He said the settlement also requires Kellwood to continue providing whole-house filtration systems for residents who get their water from contaminated private wells.
“Any new residents who have similar issues, they’ll also be responsible for that,” Roth said.
No Risk to Residents
He noted that the city’s public water wells are tested more regularly than normal to assure they aren’t contaminated.
“We don’t really have any real concern about our existing wells,” Roth said.
Another step of the cleanup will involve chemical oxidation. That treatment may require smaller wells to be installed.
“In some sense, it’s really nothing new. We’ve heard this before,” Roth said. “A lot of it was outlined in the record of decision (issued in 2011).
“The action here is more of an official memorandum of sorts, stating that it’s going to be done and that all parties have agreed,” he said.
“In simple terms, this is the cleanup phase,” Roth said, “But when you try to explain the cleanup itself, it’s difficult to do.
“It is an issue, but it’s not an issue. We’ve been told that if someone wanted to put a building in the industrial park on a concrete slab, they can do that,” he said. “The difficulty is when it comes to the sale of property. When everyone gets their eyes on it — the bankers, the financiers, the lawyers — and they see these institutional controls, it really throws a wrench in the deal.”