Huntington Common Council receives Porter/FMC update

The Huntington Common Council received an update on the cleanup process at the H.K. Porter/Friction Materials site at its meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Andy Maguire, on-scene coordinator with the Environmental Protection Agency, delivered the update to the board. Maguire reviewed the EPA’s activities at the site from July through October and previewed its agenda when work resumes in mid-January next year.

This year, said Maguire, the EPA began removing materials from the site that are hazardous to public health and the environment. Those removal efforts included the pumping of liquids from benzene storage tanks, which were then cut to prevent future accumulation. Maguire noted that cutting was done using high-pressure water so as to avoid the hazard of creating sparks.

Throughout the process, the EPA monitored the site’s perimeter to ensure that no particulates were migrating beyond its borders.

Sampling was also conducted during the first phase of the EPA’s work, said Maguire. Groundwater and soil gas samples were taken on-site, as well as at city-owned locations surrounding it. That sampling was done to determine the potential of off-site migration of organic compounds. Maguire reported that results did not indicate the presence of site-related con-taminants in shallow groundwater.

Additionally, on-site and off-site soil samples were taken to ascertain the presence of lead and asbestos.

On-site sampling showed that there were limited areas with lead concentrations above the EPA’s removal management level while there were no areas where asbestos was detected above that level. Samples taken off-site revealed the presence of lead in quantities that surpassed the EPA’s residential standard, while asbestos was not detected.

Areas with higher-than-allowable lead levels will be excavated, said Maguire.

In 2018, the EPA will turn its attention to the removal of asbestos from the site. During this process, the agency will continue to keep an eye on the site’s borders to ensure that no particulates venture outside them.

Residential sampling will also be carried out next year, stated Maguire. The EPA will be looking for the presence of lead and asbestos in soil, as well as volatile organic compounds in indoor air.

Overall, Maguire was satisfied with the progress at the site.

“It’s safer than it was in June,” he said.

Maguire expects the next phase of work to last three months.

In other business, council discussed an or-dinance that would prohibit the use of tobacco in city parks. Steve Yoder, superintendent of parks and recreation for Huntington City Services, contended that banning tobacco use altogether would be an excessive action. Rather, he favored prohibiting tobacco use in certain areas of parks, namely any place where people might gather.

Council was receptive to Yoder’s position and passage of the ordinance was tabled so it could be reworked.