BEATRICE – A clean-up project in Beatrice that is expected to take a long time to complete, may not be achieved until the start of the next decade.
The vacant Dempster Manufacturing plant in south Beatrice is now a possible Environmental Protection Agency grant-funded objective.
"This is going to be a slow, slow process...and do I get comments and are we in conversations about Dempsters...we have been for years. It now is pretty much in the control of the Environmental Protection Agency,"
Mayor Stan Wirth says a vandalism incident at the vacant property where oil was spilled from old transformers that had been damaged, changed the landscape of the city’s goal to demolish the plant, section-by-section.
"Is is going to become part of a Brownfield program where they take charge of how this is going to be cleaned up and the timing of how it's going to be cleaned up. They have a number of areas in the State of Nebraska that have to be dealt with. We are on the list. The best time estimate of when that's going to be taken care of....and nobody's gonna want to hear it....is going to be somewhere in the area of 2030."
Wirth says prior to the vandalism and oil spills where vandals attempted to find copper, an environmental assessment of the Dempster site conducted through the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy came back fairly positive.
The city is in contact with the EPA, Wirth says, to determine what steps might be taken in the shorter term. But, he says it appears there’s no need for the city to budget funds to begin a phased demolition, at this time. The EPA offers assessment grants, a revolving loan fund to assist clean-up projects and clean-up grants to applicants who own Brownfield sites.
The Dempster plant, one of the oldest manufacturing facilities in Nebraska, formerly built windmills and water pumps. In more recent years, it was used to manufacture sprayers and recycling trailers.