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Completion Celebration Set at Vertac

Release Date: 8/27/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

    Community leaders and elected officials will join officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology (ADPCE)  and the City of Jacksonville Sept. 1, 1998, to celebrate the completion of the $150 million cleanup of the former Vertac site in central Arkansas. The ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. at Jacksonville City Hall.                      

     "This cleanup is an example for the nation of what can be accomplished when EPA's Superfund program brings together all levels of government to work together with citizens for a common goal. This alliance has overcome what many in the beginning predicted would be insurmountable obstacles. Today we can celebrate our accomplishment - protecting surrounding residents and future generations by cleaning this once contaminated property," EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke said.  

     Herbicides and insecticides have been manufactured on the property by various owners since the 1940s. Vertac, the last owner, abandoned the site and declared bankruptcy in early 1987. Hazardous wastes and contaminated equipment left from decades of chemical production polluted the site and threatened area groundwater.

     Toxic waste, as well as contaminated soil, water and equipment, was safely eliminated by a  combination of burning at certified hazardous waste incinerators both off- and on-site and burial in a certified hazardous waste landfill created on the property.

     Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim has been instrumental in getting the site cleaned. He said, "EPA and ADPCE have been diligent in their efforts to help our community remove this threat to public health. The completion of cleanup activities at the Vertac site in Jacksonsville is a long awaited event for our community. Citizens can celebrate this closure and move forward with the knowledge that this part of our past has come to an end."

     Congressman Vic Snyder said, "I've made several visits to the Vertac site since being elected to Congress and it's been exciting to watch the progress made. I know the City of Jacksonville looks forward to putting much of the old Vertac area to productive use."

     ADPCE Director Randall Mathis said completion of the cleanup project is a tribute to the cooperation among federal, state and local agencies and officials. "The citizens of Jacksonville have been looking forward to this day for years, since it means the city can now continue with its already impressive economic growth without this site serving as a deterrent to progress," he said.

     State Sen. Bill Gwatney added, "I'm sure I speak for the citizens of Jacksonville when I tell you they are happy to see this important process end in a successful cleanup. Throughout the cleanup, protecting residents' health was a priority. The cleanup was carried out in a professional and safe manner."