City Utilities Excavates 1930s Gas Plant

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– At first glance it sort of looks like a big green house but the tent is actually an excavation site where city utilities is removing contaminated soil. And while the soil is ecologically unhealthy, it is still rich with history.

Starting in the 1870s The Springfield Gas and Electric Company occupied the land at 320 North Main St. There at the site, they used mammoth cylindrical gas holders to purify and store coal gas that was used to heat homes in the Springfield area until the beginning of the 1930s.

Years later, the site looks a little different.

It is now what ecologists call a brownfield, which basically means an old industrial site where the soil has become contaminated.

But now the status of the site is changing thanks to City Utilities, which is currently working to remove all the industrial leftovers.

“We’ve heard issues and stories about fires and things that took place in the center city area. And some of those debris and remnants could have been moved over to one of those holders after it was being used.  So we know that we’re going to find contaminants but we dont know what else we are going to find,” says Joel Alexander with City Utilities.

As for all the contaminated soil from the industrial work done at the turn of the century? They’re getting rid of it too, sometimes by digging up to 25 feet to reach the contamination.

“What’s interesting about this is, this is considered a contaminant, but not a hazardous waste. So we’ll be able to take this, put it in dump trucks and delivery trucks and transport it over to the Springfield landfill to a special area they have for such contaminants and storage of them,” Alexander said.

But the truly great thing about this project is what it means for the future of the Springfield community.

“The product goes out there we bring in clean soil and sometime early spring this will become a viable green space for people to use and enjoy,” says Alexander. 

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