Ameren Missouri cleanup progressing in Columbia

Thursday, May 22, 2014 | 2:46 p.m. CDT; updated 4:38 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 22, 2014

COLUMBIA — Crews have removed about 18,000 tons of soil from a downtown Columbia site contaminated with possible carcinogens from a former manufactured gas plant.

About 30,000 tons of soil will be removed by the time Ameren Missouri crews finish the work at the site, where a manufactured gas plant operated from 1875 to 1932, leaving behind tars that can contain carcinogenic compounds, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

Warren Mueller, the utility's manager of environmental assessments, said the extreme winter weather delayed the work, which is now expected to be completed by September.

The remaining soil, which will be excavated underneath a tent, is the "worst of it," Mueller said. Crews will remove the remnants of an underground tank and the soil around it.

In 1994, Ameren, which was then operating as Union Electric Co., paid $2.5 million to clean a portion of the site, but contaminants remained after work was completed.

Ameren plans to sell the site after the cleanup is completed. City Council approved an agreement in 2010 that gives the city the right to make the first offer to purchase the land, but city officials have not decided whether to make an offer for the site.

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