Originally created 06/13/02

Tainted dirt needs to go, state says



About 60 truckloads of contaminated fill dirt hauled to an Augusta baseball park must be removed, according to Georgia's Environmental Protection Division.

The dirt - which contains ash, mortar, lumber, rusted iron and other debris - originated at a demolition site at 13th and Fenwick streets, where old buildings were razed to make way for an office complex.

The material was hauled to West Augusta Little League's ballpark on city-owned property near Eisenhower Drive, where league officials had hoped to use it as fill material.

"It came to us as a complaint in February," said Al Frazier, the division's Augusta district manager. "We're concerned because it contains a lot of waste, and what looks like soil is actually a mixture of soil and ash."

Although the debris was not deemed a health threat, it is classified as solid waste and must be disposed of in a licensed landfill, Mr. Frazier said.

Design Contractors Inc., the Evans company that placed the material there, did so at the request of West Augusta Little League, said Robert Mullins, the company's lawyer.

"It was a situation where they said they'd like to have this material, and please dump it here," Mr. Mullins said.

Design Contractors, he added, is willing to help dispose of the material properly.

"We responded to (the EPD) and told them we want to work with them, and we've offered several options," he said. "We'd either sift out solid waste and use the remaining soil as fill, and we offered to remove the material as well."

However, Design Contractors wants other responsible parties to share in the cleanup, which Mr. Frazier said could cost as much as $200,000.

"Design Contractors has stepped up to the plate to do something," he said. "We're just waiting on EPD to get the other parties to step up, too."

Mr. Frazier said Augusta officials were unaware the debris was being taken to the park. But because the city owns the site, it is ultimately responsible for any inappropriate waste stored or placed there.

"It's one of those unfortunate situations where there are several parties involved," he said. "It is my hope we can get commitments from both the city and the contracting firm."

Augusta Parks & Recreation Director Tom Beck was not at work Wednesday, and Assistant Director Robert Howard said he was not familiar enough with the situation to discuss it.

He referred questions to Public Works Director Theresa Smith, who did not return telephone calls Wednesday.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119 or rpavey@augustachronicle.com.



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