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Soil Excavation to Begin in Residential Area

Northwestern Barrel Site
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin April 2004

In early May, crews will begin the excavation of lead and PCB-contaminated soil on residential property next to the Northwestern Barrel site at Fifth Ave. and Marina Rd. in South Milwaukee. The soil excavation will occur on portions of two condominium properties as well as an easement belonging to the City of South Milwaukee. Crews will excavate contaminated soil down to a maximum of 4 feet below the ground surface, depending on the area. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 2, 250 cubic yards – approximately 150 truckloads – of soil will be excavated, temporarily staged within the fenced-in area, trucked off site and disposed of in a licensed landfill.

The work will be done by contractors for a group of potentially responsible parties that have agreed to do the cleanup. EPA personnel will oversee the work. Excavation is expected to last about three weeks. Air will be monitored for dust and chemicals to ensure that levels remain safe for both residents and workers. In addition, readings will be taken to ensure that vibrations do not damage the buildings.

Once soil excavation is complete, the contractors and a local landscaping company will begin restoring the properties to pre-excavation conditions.

Over the last few weeks, contractors have been working with the condominium associations and residents in affected areas to conduct an inventory of vegetation in the excavation areas. In addition, they have been conducting visual inspections of foundation walls, patios, out-buildings and other property features. Utility lines have been located and marked. A work trailer for contractors and EPA will be set up on the site, just outside the gate to the area that has been fenced for the past few years.

What can residents expect?

During the excavation work, residents can expect to see earth-moving equipment typical of many construction sites. Because the levels of lead and PCB are of relatively low risk, workers are not expected to need respirators. Work areas will be marked with temporary fencing.

Crews will control dust by moistening soil piles, placing tarp over exposed areas and changing work operations according to wind conditions. EPA does not expect odors, other than those typical of exposed soil.

EPA does not expect to dig up the concrete patios, but cannot be certain until soil samples are analyzed while soil excavation proceeds. EPA or work crews will notify residents if the patios need to be removed to access underlying soil. New patios will be poured if removal is necessary. Work hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

What about final work at the site?

While the soil excavation is being done in the residential areas, contractors will also be excavating two small areas with contamination at levels higher than federal guidelines on the Northwestern Barrel site – the area bordered on three sides by the fence and by Lake Michigan on the east.

Compared to soil excavated in past cleanups, this soil contains relatively low levels of lead, PCBs and two solvent-like volatile organic compounds. An estimated 1,350 cubic yards – or 90 truckloads – will be removed, temporarily staged and trucked off-site for disposal in a licensed facility.

Later this year, work will be done on the stone-lined drainage swale located on the Lake Michigan slope leading from the upland area to the beach. A former wetland at the beach damaged by the contamination and clean-up work will be restored and ground water in several wells monitored over time.

About the Northwestern Barrel site..

The Northwestern Barrel site is a former barrel reconditioning factory that operated from the early 1940s until the mid-1960s. To date, nearly 190,000 tons of waste and soil contaminated with lead, PCBs and volatile organic compounds have been excavated. Work now focuses on the cleanup of several contaminated areas on residential property next to the site.

To learn more about the upcoming cleanup work, please contact one of the site contacts.

EPA will place the work plan and legal order in the information repository at the South Milwaukee Public Library as soon as they are available.

EPA will also post the documents on its web site at: epa.gov/region5/sites/marinacliffs. (Residents of the Marina Cliffs and Bay Heights condominiums may also contact their board of directors to see copies.)

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