February 14, 2004

Environment - More on Fort Wayne's Slater Steel Site

This Feb. 2, 2004 ILB entry referenced a story in the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel on Slater Steel and the possibility of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management placing a $500,000 cap on the site's future cleanup costs. I ended the entry with this: "The story does not discuss whether the "cap" would mean that no future cleanup would be required beyond that amount, or that future costs beyond that amount would paid by the taxpayers, rather than by the company."

This story Friday, Feb. 13th in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette provides a partial answer, along with the good news that the site has found a buyer:

The Fort Wayne city government will offer about $500,000 in economic incentives such as tax abatements, environmental cleanup assistance and infrastructure grants. The incentives will be performance-based and hinge on meeting employment and investment goals, Young said.

In addition, the state could help Valbruna with workforce training and other assistance, Young said.

The century-old Slater plant has soil and groundwater contamination because of the industrial nature of the operation, said Amy Hartsock, spokeswoman with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Slater has been cleaning up the site for several years.

Based on a proposed agreement, IDEM will cap Valbruna's cleanup costs to $500,000 to encourage the company to continue the cleanup operations, Hartsock said. If cleanup costs exceed that amount, IDEM would work with Valbruna to find additional financing to pay for the cleanup, she added.

Despite the proposed agreement, IDEM has the right to seek cleanup damages from parties that contaminated the property before Valbruna's purchase.

Also of interest is this "Look Back" at the Slater site, where steel has been made for over 100 years, from the News-Sentinel.

[Update] Here is the IDEM press release, issued Feb. 13, 2004. A quote:

Under the agreement with IDEM, which is expected to be executed early next week, Valbruna is required to set aside $500,000 to clean up existing environmental problems. IDEM will work with the new owner to find funding sources for long-term cleanup needs. The agreement does not release the parties that caused the contamination from the requirement to pay for cleanup in the future. * * *

In its agreement with IDEM, Valbruna commits to take action to renew operation at the plant and to operate for at least three years. The agreement requires Valbruna to submit a proposed scope of cleanup work to IDEM within 180 days of signing the final paperwork to own the plant. The company has another 120 days after IDEM approves that scope of work plan to submit a remediation work plan. IDEM will work with the company to monitor cleanup activities to ensure goals are met.

I have contacted IDEM for a copy of the agreement document itself. I hope to post it here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi at February 14, 2004 11:24 AM