YORK -- Soil contaminated with chromium under an industrial building off Campbell Road may be cleaned instead of capped.
On Monday, DHEC held a meeting at Hunter Street Elementary to discuss the contamination and the new cleanup option.
After hearing neighbors' concerns about the site, SPX Corporation, which owns the property, has decided to look into ways the soil could be treated on site rather than just leaving it under the protection of the building as the Department of Health and Environmental Control had recommended.
Tests have shown the groundwater and soil on site contain hazardous chromium. The contamination happened because of leftover rinse water that was used on metal after it was put through chromic acid plating tanks by the former owners, Metals Protection Co.
DHEC had recommended the groundwater be treated with chemicals that would neutralize it and that the soil be left as is, with a deed restriction saying the building that caps it be maintained.
"The community didn't really like the fact that we were leaving the soil in place under the building," said Angie Jones, DHEC project manager. "The company SPX has decided to look into some other methods and DHEC is allowing they to look at other methods."
DHEC is giving the company several weeks to look into a way to treat the soil by injecting a chemical that would break it down into a safe element.
"It's going to take a few weeks, before we even know if it's effective or not and then if it shows favorable results then we'll include it with our studies, so we'll have an additional option to review," Jones said.
If research shows that wouldn't be an effective option, DHEC will probably still recommend leaving it in place with a deed restriction requiring the building be maintained to cap the soil.
York County Councilman Tom Smith, who has developed houses in the area around Campbell Road, said if the new option proves to be effective, he's okay with it.
"As long as it all goes away, that's what we're looking," he said. "If they can treat it and it goes away that would be great."
Still some would prefer to have the ground completely removed instead of cleaned on site.
"Yes, we agree if you leave the cap it will be contained, but for how long?" said Steve Penland, who lives near the site. "I'm not saying don't remove the cap in case it breaks. I'm saying remove it because at some point something will happen and it will break."