MIAMI — The major work on Phase 1 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup at the old B.F. Goodrich tire plant was to be completed Wednesday, according to Mike McAteer, federal on-scene coordinator for the EPA’s Region 6, which includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
“We have some cleanup work to do around the pad and around some of the (foundation) edges, but all 19 piles that I had talked about at that meeting (on June 6 when plans were unveiled) have been removed by the close of business Wednesday,” McAteer said.
Work started the following day on the removal of what now is estimated to be 15,000 tons of asbestos containing debris at the old tire plant.
McAteer originally had said there was 23,000 tons of material, but that total has been adjusted because “a lot of the debris on the west side was building rubble that wasn’t as heavy as we thought, but there were piles on the east side was roofing material that was compacted and was a lot heavier.”
McAteer had said he was hopeful that the first part of the project could be completed in time for the start of school here — and he was right on.
He had set the target date since Will Rogers Middle School, Nichols Elementary and Miami Head Start are located within a block east of the site.
The last pile was trucked out Wednesday.
“That’s very good news,” McAteer said. “We are a little ahead of schedule. We are under budget so far.”
McAteer said workers will take a break for Labor Day, but will return to take care of some work needed around some of the foundation edges.
That shouldn’t take but a week or two.
Through several expansions following the opening of the plant in 1946, it covered 1.6 million square feet and employed more than 2,000 workers from around the region.
Goodrich announced it would close its Miami operation in 1986.
In 1988, Michelin swallowed up B.F. Goodrich.
Phase 1 picked up where an initial project to clean up the site became bogged down in 2014, when the contractor responsible for the demolition — Real Estate Remediation, LLC of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a subsidiary of the Blakeney Company — completed about 70% of the work before declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Debris has been hauled out in plastic-lined dump trucks and sealed with additional plastic tarping.
Twenty-six loads a day have been transported to the Prairie View Regional Waste Landfill in Lamar, Missouri, with a site in Sand Springs used on Saturdays.
McAteer said he would make a pitch to his higher-ups in the EPA Monday morning to get permission to segue way right into Phase 2.
That includes abatement of the powerhouse building and cleaning out seven utility pits that has asbestos pipe and materials still in them.
McAteer said he was also going to seek approval to clean out a carbon black tank, which still has several cubic yards of material remaining, and Banbury mixers, which were used to combine polymers for rubber and carbon black.
He also said there are thousands of old florescent bulbs (which contain mercury), paint, oil, hydraulic fluid and paint thinner in one of the warehouses that need to be cleaned out.
“I have gone at the lower level (EPA Region 6 officials) and they have said ‘we are good with you going, but it has to come from higher up,’” McAteer said. “Hopefully that will happen and there will hardly be any gap between Phase 1 and Phase 2 because I would like to get started on Phase 2 as fast as I can.”
McAteer said a little time had been lost due to the weather.
“We really haven’t had any problems: the truck kept rolling and the landfills have stayed open,” he said. “We haven’t even had an injury or anything like that.”