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Company to pay more than $300K for explosion cleanup


Company to pay more than $300K for explosion cleanup

Feb 06, 2023 | 6:31 pm ET
By Jared Strong
Company to pay more than $300K for explosion cleanup
An explosion in Marengo contaminated soil and water in the area. (Photo courtesy of Department of Natural Resources documents)

A Marengo company has agreed to pay at least $333,580 for environmental cleanup related to a December explosion at its facility, according to court records.

C6-Zero, a company that deconstructs shingles into their base components for reuse, will pay that amount to a Des Moines-area company for assessment and remediation work and will deposit a further $75,000 into a bank account to fund future work, under an agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which filed suit against the company last month.

The suit was meant to force the company to comply with a DNR emergency order about a week after the explosion that required the company to secure the property, cease operations and prevent contaminants from escaping.

The agreement this week obviated a court hearing that was set for Monday afternoon about a temporary injunction that was sought by the state to enforce the DNR’s requirements.

As part of that agreement, C6-Zero will provide the DNR with a list of chemicals it stored and used, which has been a point of contention.

The DNR has said the company has repeatedly refused to disclose a list of chemicals — which is important to guide the testing of soil and water for contamination — but the company has disputed that, saying it offered the information in November when DNR officials toured part of the facility.

“All participants in the tour were also given the opportunity to view the relevant documentation required to be held on-site, including the Safety Data Sheets, which include the chemicals stored at the facility,” the company told Iowa Capital Dispatch. “These documents were also sent electronically to IDNR prior to the tour. While the chemicals themselves are common, C6-Zero’s chemical mixture is a proprietary trade secret.”

Tests of water runoff from the site have shown heavy contamination from chemicals associated with petroleum, specifically from diesel fuel. There is also worry about contamination from so-called “forever chemicals” that are present in some firefighting foams.

A site assessment by EcoSource — the Des Moines company that was commissioned by C6-Zero to help with cleanup — found that “drums of firefighting foam were identified throughout the site,” according to DNR records.

In a separate lawsuit, C6-Zero was ordered last month to pay about $134,000 to Heartland Co-op for diesel fuel it bought but didn’t pay for, court records show.

The DNR also plans to hire two companies to treat the contaminated runoff water from the C6-Zero site that is contained in a city stormwater basin nearby. The department has worried that snow melt might cause the basin to overflow into the Iowa River, said Tammie Krausman, a DNR spokesperson.

The plan is to treat the water and discharge it into the river. The DNR said it will seek reimbursement for the work from C6-Zero. The basin has an estimated 12 million gallons of water.

The DNR said the Iowa County Drainage District will also construct a channel to divert snow melt and stormwater to bypass the basin.

“The parties agreed to an aggressive performance timeframe and substantial financial commitments,” according to a DNR statement on Monday. “This agreement negated the need for a (court) hearing today, and avoided the inherent delays in waiting for the court to issue a ruling.”

The DNR noted that federal officials might get involved if the company does not comply with the requirements of the agreement.