- Associated Press - Thursday, August 17, 2017

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Lawrence officials say contamination cleanup at a former fertilizer plant will cost more than expected.

City Manager Tom Markus said Tuesday that the city is preparing to hire an outside contractor to help with the cleanup at the former Farmland Industries fertilizer plant. He said the $8.6 million trust fund transferred to the city to pay for the remediation of nitrogen-contaminated groundwater is decreasing.

“We’re facing a lack of funding, planning and maybe some foresight to anticipate some of this stuff,” Markus said. “So it’s all coming to a head very quickly.”

The city took ownership of the plant in 2010 with the goal of using part of the site for its new business park, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .

Markus said an outside contractor is needed to truck nitrogen-contaminated groundwater elsewhere as the site’s water storage system approaches capacity. The outside contract is expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.



The cleanup was projected to cost at least $13 million. The city planned to mitigate costs partly with trust fund interest, but Markus said unrealistic trust fund earnings make the remediation a challenge.

“So you have things going in two directions, right,” Markus said. “You have a very aggressive, expensive mitigation plan, and you have an overly optimistic revenue expectation on the trust fund that was transferred to us.”

He said the city will recommend a contract next month to truck the excess water to farmers in the region. City officials are meeting with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment this week.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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