When making their maiden journey, members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition recognized the beauty of the site where the Missouri and Platte Rivers converge. Unfortunately, the surrounding area, described by the explorers as "high handsome prairies," is today stigmatized as a Brownfields site.
Under contract with Sarpy County, we applied for and administered a $200,000 EPA Brownfields grant. The grant funded a comprehensive Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), which provided encouraging results. Of the 950-acre site, only 600 square feet of soil required removal due to polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination. Contaminants were noted in isolated groundwater samples that were above drinking water standards. However, there are currently no downgradient drinking water wells in the area.
The EPA Brownfields grant’s scope of work included:
- Developing health and safely, quality assurance, and sampling and analysis plans for EPA approval
- Performing groundwater and soil sampling
- Preparing the Phase II ESA report
- Developing a community involvement plan
- Developing press releases and conducting public meetings
- Conducting stakeholder meetings with the property owner, government agency representatives, industrial developers, and local politicians.
Currently, the property’s owner is evaluating whether to participate in the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Voluntary Cleanup Program. Simultaneously, numerous local, state, and federal agencies are looking at portions of the property for recreational reuse.
The site offers a unique opportunity for habitat and river restoration, as well as economic development for the county on one of the few industrial sites in the state with transportation access that includes rail, highway, and river barge.
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