Tuesday, July 25, 2017

EPA Could Make University-Area Lot a Superfund Site

Posted By on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 at 11:05 AM

click to enlarge Site of the former Custom Cleaners close to the University of Memphis. - GOOGLE MAPS
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  • Site of the former Custom Cleaners close to the University of Memphis.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that while a contaminated site close to the University of Memphis has not yet impacted surrounding sites, it could pose a threat to the city’s drinking water.

In 2013, the EPA found that perchloroethylene (PCE), a harmful chemical, was used at Custom Cleaners, a dry cleaner that operated at 3517 Southern from 1945 to the mid-1990s. Extensive testing found the toxin in soil and groundwater samples on the site.

Last year, the EPA removed the Custom Cleaners building, the slab it sat upon, and the highest concentrations of the toxin, which were about 18 feet below the the land’s surface.

The EPA also proposed the site be listed on the National Priorities List, hazardous waste sites in the United States eligible for long-term clean up paid for by the federal Superfund program. The EPA expects the site to be listed this month.

The EPA expects the initial field work around the contaminated site to be finished in September and will host information sessions on that work next week.

“While there has been no impact to date, there is potential for the PCE contaminated groundwater to impact the municipal drinking wells within the Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) Sheahan Well Field, due to the site’s close proximity,” reads an EPA statement.

That statement notes that “significant development” is now underway around the site and points specifically to “a popular fast food chain” — a McDonald’s — that sits on the site’s northern border.

Next week, the EPA will host two public information sessions on there its work and the Superfund process. The first session will be on Thursday, August 3 at the Old Highland Branch Library at 9 a.m. The second session will start at 5 p.m.

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