Tainted city sites

Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:27 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

While the EPA deemed Hinkson Creek impaired in 1998, neither the federal government nor the state has done enough study to determine what the pollutants are or where they are coming from. Those questions contributed to a Department of Natural Resources decision to sit on 27 construction permits out of fear that further development could pollute the creek even more.

The Biological Assessment Report on Hinkson Creek done by the DNR in 2002, however, sheds some light on the pollutant problem. According to the report, the DNR tested eight sites along Hinkson Creek through Columbia and cited five sites suspected of being major contributors to pollution that compromises the creek’s ability to sustain aquatic life. Those sites include:

  • The Broadway Marketplace on Conley Road, which is home to a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a Sam’s Club and Lowe’s. The report says runoff from the development’s parking lot might be dumping petroleum into the creek. Inspectors reported smelling a “strong odor of diesel” and seeing “a rainbow sheen” on the creek’s surface that might have been caused by petroleum.
  • Columbia Country Club, on North Country Club Drive east of U.S. 63. The report says it might be contaminating the creek with fertilizers and pesticides, although the inspectors found no evidence of any contamination in runoff from the golf course.
  • Interstate 70, which crosses Hinkson Creek just west of the U.S. 63 interchange. Runoff from the highway might carry de-icing chemicals, petroleum and miscellaneous debris into the creek.
  • A leaking sewage line at Clark Lane and U.S. 63. It might have contaminated the water and killed some aquatic life. That leak is scheduled to be repaired with money from Columbia’s 2003 sewer bond issue.
  • Columbia’s landfill, northeast of Columbia. It might be contaminating the creek, but the DNR report does not detail what pollutants it might contribute.

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