By Andy Ostmeyer
WEBB CITY, Mo. — One of Southwest Missouri’s mine-scarred moonscapes is slowly but surely beginning to look more like it belongs back on Earth.
On Tuesday, as the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a plan to clean up sites in Newton County, work was continuing on the hundreds of acres of tailing piles and mine pits left in Carterville and Webb City.
“Most of the work on the Carterville side is already done,” said Mark Doolan, project manager for the EPA. “We are plugging along and making good progress. We are really pleased with the way things are going.”
An initial 75-acre project was completed last year, and this spring an additional 900 acres should be cleaned up to federal standards.
“Probably in the next three or four months,” Doolan said.
The goal, he said, is to clean up part of the site to industrial standards because Webb City officials want to put an industrial park there. The EPA also plans to clean up as much as 800 of those acres to residential standards, which means homes could be built there.
When the Webb City-Carterville cleanup is finished, EPA officials plan to continue working their way south toward Duenweg.
Contractors — in this case Snyder Construction Co. — strip the contaminated soil down to the clay and use the collected material to fill pits, which then are capped with clean clay and a layer of topsoil.
Within those acres are miles of water, sewer, natural gas and telephone lines that must be reinstalled.
Doolan said that as part of the cleanup in Jasper County, the EPA will lay new sewer line from Carterville to the Webb City lift station, and will put in 1.5 miles of new waterline.
“The biggest problem we’re having is stormwater runoff,” Doolan said. Much of the runoff in the past made its way into the mines, but as those are plugged, the contractors have to create retention ponds and basins to store the water to control flooding.
By Andy Ostmeyer
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