- Associated Press - Monday, July 31, 2017

RIPLEY, Mich. (AP) - Cleanup of contaminants at the former Quincy Smelting Works site is continuing this summer with the removal of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead paint, according to Scott See.

See is the executive director of the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Advisory Commission, which owns the smelter site. For about three weeks workers from Mannik Smith Group, which has several locations in Michigan and Ohio have been removing the toxic materials.

In October 2012, the Franklin Township Board and the commission came to an agreement for the sale of the site to the National Park Service for $335,000 plus the forgiveness of $11,437 in loans from the commission to the township. The commission made a down payment of $2,000 on Oct. 22, 2012. In August 2014, NPS made the final payment to the township. Eventually, the commission will hand the site over to the NPS.

The cleanup this summer was not as intensive as past cleanups at the site, See told The Daily Mining Gazette (https://bit.ly/2tEJ3mv ).

“They went into buildings and took out things they thought were an issue,” he said.

Items such as lamp ballasts and small containers, which might have held toxic material, are being removed, See said.

“It wasn’t truckloads of stuff,” he said.

Jeff Binkley, project manager with Mannik Smith Group, said the removal of PCBs and mercury concluded in June.

See said lead-based paint was used throughout the site, and one of the projects this summer is to determine how to deal with it.

Now, an assessment of lead-based paint is taking place throughout the site.

Binkley said what, if anything, is done about the paint depends on where it is located and the current and future use of the location where the paint is found.

Although many paints had lead in them to speed up drying, add durability and resist moisture which causes corrosion, Binkley said not all paints made before 1978, when lead in paint was banned in the United States, were lead-based.

“Historic paints didn’t always have lead in them,” he said.

Once it’s determined where the lead-based paint on the site is, Binkley said the commission will be given four possible management options to deal with it.

If the paint is in a location where visitors aren’t expected to go, Binkley said the paint can be left as is, and access to the location would be limited.

For locations on the site, which get significant visits, but which have lead paint, Binkley said removal of the paint may be the best option.

If removal is not a good option, but the site gets significant numbers of visitors, Binkley said “encapsulation,” which is a clear coating, prevents the paint from chipping or flaking off and allows for visits to the area.

The final option is called “enclosure,” Binkley said, which involves restricting access but provides a clear barrier, such as a window, allowing the location to be viewed.

Binkley said the assessment of the lead-paint issue at the smelter site will be done this summer, and the options will be presented to the commission, which will make a decision about what action to take.

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Information from: The Daily Mining Gazette, https://www.mininggazette.com

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