|Developer Jeff Schmitz
The best way to address groundwater and soil contamination beneath the planned Hotel Indigo before building the hotel? Dig up and cart away the soil, and wrap the building in a protective barrier, say the engineers hired by Grand Traverse County.
AKT Peerless of Lansing revealed the recommendations in a 24-page report and invited citizens to check them out last night at the InsideOut Gallery.
“This is an extremely contaminated site that needs to be dealt with,” explains developer Jeff Schmitz, adding that if he’d known the extent of the contamination before starting the project, he might have had second thoughts.
The report sets out several possible actions for the soil and water, both of which contain cyanide, petroleum, metals and other contaminants. (Note: Option No. 1 in both cases – what is considered “baseline” – is to take no action, which costs nothing but achieves no cleanup.)
Here’s The Ticker’s take on the actionable items:
Option No. 2: Excavation and off-site landfill disposal, which wouldn’t involve “cleaning” the soil, but rather, shoveling it into trucks and removing it to a landfill – most likely Glen’s Landfill in Leelanau County or the Wexford County Landfill, says Al MacDonald, project manager with Molon Excavating.
While this option would rectify the contamination problem at the site and wouldn’t require long-term engineering, it simply transfers the contamination to another site. Estimated cost: $500,000 to $600,000.
Option No. 3: Excavation, soil washing and off-site disposal, said to remove contamination from the soil – though long-term effectiveness is uncertain, and critics say the process is expensive and time-consuming. Estimated cost: $2 million to $3 million.
Option No. 2: An impermeable barrier, most likely of high-density polyethylene plastic, would surround the hotel’s foundation and underground garage to keep the groundwater flowing through the site from seeping into the building. This option would involve diverting the groundwater to the city sewer system for the three months it would take to build the barrier. It would temporarily lower the water table and chemically reduce contaminants in the water to acceptable levels before the water goes into the system. Estimated cost: $350,000 to $450,000 for installation, plus $150,000 to $200,000 to divert the groundwater.
Option No. 3: Permanently re-routing the water to flow around or beneath the building. This approach would require on-going operations, including pumps, maintenance and monitoring, possibly costing as much as $2.5 million over the life of the hotel. Installation, testing and other setup costs estimated at $150,000 to $200,000.
Option No. 4: Groundwater remediation in which oxidation could chemically remove cyanide from the plume over time. Said to be the most effective long-term strategy, it would reduce risks to human health and infrastructure, but would either delay construction indefinitely or require an impermeable barrier while the cleanup is undertaken. Estimated cost: $500,000+, depending on extent of plume contaminantion.
The engineers and developer voiced preference for soil and water options No. 2, but you can have your say, too. The county will host two public hearings on the plan – at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on October 31 in the Commission Chambers at the Governmental Center, 400 Boardman Avenue – before the Environmental Protection Agency, which is funding much of the remediation, makes a final ruling. Developers hope to begin the cleanup on Nov. 2 and have the hotel finished by January 2014.