- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) - A $3.4 million cleanup effort has begun at three sites linked to groundwater contamination in Columbus.

As of Wednesday morning, one of three buildings had already been demolished. Prudent Technologies, based in Kansas City, was hired as the main contractor, will continue working with local contractors to demolish the other buildings over the coming weeks.

The remediation project is the result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordering the city to control a plume of tainted groundwater that originated more than 30 years ago on the former dry cleaner properties, the Columbus Telegram (http://bit.ly/1KRDnTh ) reported.

The federal agency identified the properties as the source of two carcinogenic chemicals that leached into the soil and groundwater over three decades ago.

State health officials initially identified the groundwater contamination in 1983, and then cleanup was handed over to the agency, which is funding the remediation project.

Crews are expected to complete the cleanup work in the next few weeks, but additional steps will be taken before the project is complete, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Chris Whitley.

“As far as environmental cleanup goes, this is not one of the most complex that we’ve had,” Whitley said.

After the buildings have been razed, soil at all three sites will be excavated and tested. Chemical injections and sampling also will be conducted in the spring to determine whether additional action is needed, Whitley said.

Some streets will be closed temporarily as the work continues, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working closely with the Department of Environmental Quality to minimize the impact on neighboring businesses and properties, he said.

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Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com

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