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Published: Friday, 6/20/2003

Beryllium cleanup plan outlined

LUCKEY, Ohio - Federal government officials last night presented their $37.3 million proposed cleanup plan for beryllium pollution here caused during the Cold War.

Timothy Byrnes, project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said a final decision on the plan would be made by December.

The corps' preferred plan calls for a four-year effort that would cost $36.5 million for excavation, hauling, and disposal of contaminated soil and $830,000 for follow-up groundwater tests.

Twenty people attended last night's public comment meeting at the Troy Township Fire Hall.

The corps, which is in charge of the cleanup, is attempting its first beryllium cleanup in Ohio at Gilbert and Luckey roads, a 47-acre site used by Brush Beryllium Co.

The former beryllium site in Luckey, which is about 25 miles southeast of Toledo, is also polluted with uranium, thorium, and lead, Mr. Byrnes said.

After hearing several alternatives for the cleanup, Rick Brogan, of Luckey Road, was among a small number of residents who asked questions.

“I would like to know what the flow direction of the groundwater is and what is the level of contamination west of the plant,” Mr. Brogan said. “Who is the third-party firm that will ensure you are doing this as you have put forth?”

Mr. Brogan also wanted to know how the removed soil would be transported.

Mr. Byrnes said questions would be answered in writing.

“This was a formal meeting for the record,” Mr. Byrnes said. “Thus, we are going to formally respond.”

The corps also will take written comments through July 9.

Brush Beryllium has had operations in Elmore since 1958. The Luckey site was used by the company from 1949 to 1958 as a beryllium production facility for the former Atomic Energy Commission. The government agency, in turn, shipped the material to plants that made nuclear weapons.

Beryllium is a metal considered by the U.S. Department of Energy to be among the most toxic and hazardous non-radioactive substances.

The work in Luckey is expected to begin in 2006, but Mr. Byrnes said it could take an additional two years before funding is secured.

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