EPA and Des Moines move to rehab polluted eyesore property – About Your Online Magazine

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, on his first visit to Iowa, joined state and city officials on Tuesday to announce future plans for an old industrial area in a prominent place on the outskirts of Des Moines city center.

The 43-acre property bounded by the east bank of the Raccoon River and a major avenue in the city was classified as a federal superfund site in 1983. This designation entitled the property to federal funding under a 1980 law that allows the EPA to clean up contamination and force responsible parties to remove contaminants or reimburse the government for doing so.

The contamination and necessary cleaning were the subject of a long-standing dispute between Titan International Inc. – the parent company of the manufacturers Dico and Titan Tire Corp. – and the EPA. The property has been vacant for 25 years.

Under a court-ordered settlement passed in February, Dico and Titan will pay the EPA $ 11.5 million and give the property to the city of Des Moines. The city will operate a groundwater treatment system, which will be updated by the EPA, and will work with the EPA for future uses.

“EPA has been working on the DICO site for a long time and the city has been suffering from this plague for decades. At EPA, we know that it’s not just about cleanliness, but about what’s to come. We are leading with the mindset that environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand, ”said EPA administrator Michael S. Regan.

For city officials, the release of land for development is a historic landmark. The complex of deteriorating and rusty buildings is visible from Martin Luther King Boulevard, an important public thoroughfare in the city, and has long been the target of development. It is one of the last vestiges of an industrial area that for much of the city’s history has been the site of heavy industry, where a pesticide chemical plant existed and steel wheels were made.

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie remembers working on it in the 1980s as part of a group of entrepreneurs looking to improve the area.

“It’s been a long time,” said Cownie. “I think it’s been about 38 years since this was created to be a superfund site. It’s been a long, long project and this is a great day for the sun to shine on it and say hey, we can see the end and we have a solution. “

The city of Des Moines applied for $ 27.1 million in state funds from the District Reinvestment Program. The Iowa Economic Development Authority is due to meet on May 21 to announce whether the project has been chosen for funding.

Paula Fonseca