by Jason Wright / Appen Newspapers
April 13, 2009 It looks like its going to be a long time before Milton residents can use Providence Park.
Fulton County has decided two more wells and more groundwater testing for up to a year are necessary to continue the park's clean up. Environmental remediation is now expected to conclude in August 2010.
"Late last year some of the testing determined we weren't getting the result we wanted, so we had to go back in and modify the system," said Angela Parker, Fulton County's director of Public Works.
Basically, the groundwater cleanup system in place was lagging, so the testing period had to be extended to make up for the gaffe and the down time needed for maintenance.
"It's a matter of continuing to test the results and getting the optimum results for the system," she said.
Providence Park has been closed since January 2004, when buried debris, sixteen 55-gallon drums and more than 200 various sized receptacles containing Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulated materials were discovered in a lake and wetlands abutting 40-acre recreation area.
Those materials included barium, chromium, vinyl chloride and other compounds, which were found in much higher levels than the state allows in groundwater. Some concentrations were 10 times what is allowed by the state, according to then Fulton County Deputy County Manager Terry Todd.
The spill was originally discovered in 2003.
In early 2008, Milton's then City Attorney Mark Scott and City Council floated the idea of purchasing portions of the park and possibly cordoning off the affected areas. The idea was to apply for the state Environmental Protection Division's (EPD) Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Act, also known as the "Brownfields Act," which would have released the city from liability and promoted reuse of the closed site.
But Councilwoman Tina D'Aversa, who urged bringing Providence Park into Milton for more park space at the time, said everyone at City Hall has since agreed not to lease or purchase any part of it until the full clean up is complete."If the EPD has extended the remediation, we trust in them," said D'Aversa. "If they are finding stuff, then we absolutely do not want, in any way, shape or form, to open up something or allow our citizens anywhere close to something that might have any type of negative connotations for them."
D'Aversa said in the meantime council has been concentrating its efforts on making improvements to Bell Memorial Park and the currently undeveloped Birmingham Park.
"When Providence Park is ready, we'll be ready," she said.
According to Fulton County, which still owns Providence Park because of the remediation, the materials were reportedly dumped and buried prior to 1970, when the property was utilized as a county road aggregate quarry and maintenance facility.
To remove Providence Park from the EPD'S listing as on the Georgia Hazardous Site Inventory, contaminated soil was first removed. The county said approximately 8,331.5 tons of impacted soil was taken, and the site was cleared soil-wise in June 2006.
Removal of groundwater began in September 2007. Groundwater recovery wells and a treatment system were added January 2008. Originally, the groundwater was to be tested quarterly for a year, but the new change adds another nine to 12 months, plus the two additional wells.
The cleanup plan includes a two-year groundwater monitoring program implemented under the watch of EPD. Once completed, all equipment will be moved off site and Fulton County will restore the park by clearing fallen trees and debris, repairing the fencing, addressing the security, improving the post-excavation soil grade and removing the temporary erosion control measures.