Toxic Scott City site becoming recycling center

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

In 2001, Millennium Environmental Services of Missouri Inc. abandoned the property at 3100 Industrial Fuel Drive in Scott City, leaving little more than a toxic waste dump of barrels brimming with hazardous chemicals. But now that facility is emerging from the lingering fumes left by its previous tenant to take on a new identity.

On Friday, Jackson's Bob Janota confirmed that he has purchased the tax lien on the former hazardous waste storage and treatment facility from Scott City. He said his intention is to convert that property into a plastic recycling and manufacturing facility that will function under his 2-year-old company, Alternative Energy Solutions.

The 10 to 12 workers that the new plastics company is expected to hire will be the first employees the property has seen since Millennium Environmental mysteriously vacated the compound sometime in the first six months of 2001. Utility payment records indicated that the building had been without water after March and without electricity or gas by April 26.

The vacancy came to light in June of that year, when Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon sued Millennium for alleged serious violations of state hazardous waste management law. According to a Missouri Department of Natural Resources inspection conducted that April, those violations included storing waste in a nonpermitted area, storing incompatible wastes together, failing to store the waste in adequate containers and storing about 15,000 more gallons of hazardous waste than allowed under permit. Millennium was also found to be nearly $54,000 short on a financial guarantee to ensure that it could properly close the facility.

All this came to a head in late July 2001, when the DNR stormed the gates of the compound and removed about 1,500 drums full of acids, bases and solvents to ensure they posed no threat to the environment.

Now the DNR is working with Sunbelt Environmental Services out of Springfield, Mo., to finish the job over the next few weeks.

"It's been in the works for a long time," said DNR environmental engineer Dan Carey. "Now we'll be closing out the site."

Carey said that this will entail decontaminating one building that had been used for storage of waste and completely dismantling another building in which those chemicals were processed. They will also clean out the tanks and run tests on soil and ground water samples to ensure there is no lingering contamination. Carey said that preliminary soil and water tests show no problems.

Purchase of the tax lien gives Janota first rights to buy the title to the property once the area is completely decontaminated and approved by the DNR. Janota also owns Inter-Rail Systems Inc. of Cape Girardeau, which specializes in environmental cleanup of this type. That is why he said he has little fear of the site's history.

"That's the business we're in," Janota said.

Janota's new business will entail recycling of post-consumer plastics for use in manufacturing and industry. He estimated that the site will be approved and open for his purchase within 90 days.

335-6611, extension 137

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