BEATRICE – Originally expected to be finished in June….an environmental clean-up project on the east bank of the Big Blue River in Beatrice is now nearing completion. A Texas firm, Entact LLC has been doing the remediation work under supervision of Black and Veatch, an engineering firm. The clean-up plan was approved by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. A former coal gas plant near 1st and Market existed back in the early 19-hundreds. The site has since been leveled and rock erosion control installed along the river, but City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer says there’s some remaining work. [audio mp3="http://media3.floodradio.com/columbus/2017/09/Gas-Plant-Status1.mp3"][/audio] :28 “cleaned up, down there” One of the cylinders apparently contained the chemical that gives the odor to natural gas, but officials are uncertain what the others contain. The City has been responsible for 25 percent of the cleanup cost, with Centel Corporation paying the remaining 75 percent…. based on past ownership of the property. Tempelmeyer says the city has spent about one million dollars on the cleanup so far, with another $200,000 to be paid on the contract. The cost to remove the buried cylinders is expected to be around $250,000, of which the city will pay 25%. The city has been dealing with the site since its’ discovery in 2004, and Tempelmeyer says officials have sometimes pondered what projects might have been completed, had the cleanup not been required. [audio mp3="http://media3.floodradio.com/columbus/2017/09/Gas-Plant-Status2.mp3"][/audio] :17 “get cleaned up” When the project started, you could see the location on Google Maps satellite image….marked as a big circle near the river, where vegetation would not grow. [audio mp3="http://media3.floodradio.com/columbus/2017/09/Gas-Plant-Status3.mp3"][/audio] :14 “anything that grew” Ironically, the contaminated soil removed during the clean-up is not required to be taken to a hazardous waste site, but is allowed to be used for cover material at the Beatrice Area Solid Waste Agency landfill. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA previously said the site’s soil and groundwater was contaminated by cyanide, metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and gasoline additives, among other things. Once the cleanup is finished, Tempelmeyer says the seeded area will become park or green space, providing an area where the public can access the river.