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Archive for Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Cleanup, dismantling continues at plant site

June 14, 2006

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Despite the future ownership of the property being unsure, cleanup at the former Farmland fertilizer plant is continuing.

Kamyar Manesh, the trust administrator overseeing the Lawrence plant, said crews are busy both taking down pieces of fertilizer equipment that are being shipped to the Middle East and creating new ways to deal with groundwater contamination at the site.

Manesh, whose job is to manage and help dispose of the property for the bankruptcy court, said good plans are in place to deal with the environmental issues.

"All of the environmental issues are very manageable," Manesh said.

The primary environmental concern is that tons of nitrogen - the type of fertilizers used on lawns and farm fields - has seeped into the groundwater. None of the contamination, though, has spread beyond the 467-acre property, Manesh said.

And Manesh said a system was in place to stop the contamination from spreading. About six wells have been drilled that continually pump groundwater into five specially-lined detention ponds. That pumping activity stops the groundwater pool from growing in size and spreading.

But Manesh said his crews now are implementing a system that will eliminate most of the ponds and instead store the water in two tanks - a 6-million-gallon tank and a 2-million-gallon tank - that are on the property. The water from the tanks will be pumped through a pipeline to North Lawrence where farmers will use the water - which is basically just diluted fertilizer - to spread on their farm fields. The pipeline is left over from the days when the plant was being used to produce fertilizer.

Manesh said crews are busy preparing parts of the facility's ammonia plant to be shipped to Oman, where a company has purchased the equipment to resume fertilizer productions in that country. The Middle East has become a major fertilizer producer because prices for natural gas - a major component in producing fertilizer - are cheaper there.

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