City officials praised Johnson Controls for cleaning up its property at 232 S. Monroe St.
Over the summer, Johnson Controls hauled away 35 million pounds of concrete, asphalt and waste from the site, once home to Hoover Universal Die Casting in Saline. Michael Stoelton, Director of Environmental Affairs for Johnson Controls, detailed the history of the site, Johnson Controls' work to clean up the site, and plans to remediate contamination on the site.
Stoelton explained that Johnson Controls never operated on the property and didn’t even own the property until 2012 (although, according to a 2003 EPA order, Hoover Universal was a subsidiary of Johnson Controls.) Hoover went bankrupt and left the site in 1990.
More recently, a concrete floor that capped contamination was perforated by Saline River Properties, causing a lengthy lawsuit as the property sat neglected. Johnson Controls took ownership of the property in 2012.
During an extensive cleanup from July to September, Johnson Controls conducted a video inspection to determine the condition of the sanitary branch that crosses the property. The company removed trees, bushes, scrap metal, piping, concrete piles, asphalt piles, and various tanks, drums and other debris. Stoelton said nearly 6,000 tons of concrete were recycled and another 6,600 tons were disposed. Another 3,100 tons of special wastes were disposed and 85 tons of hazardous wastes were disposed. 22,119 gallons of non-hazardous liquid wastes were disposed.
“What resulted is that we have a site free of obstacles so we are free to begin remediation,” Stoelton told council.
There are still contaminated sites on the property. Johnson Control’s next step is to submit a corrective measures plan to the EPA. This will take place by the end of the year.
“Once the EPA agrees with the plan we will need to execute the plan to address soil contamination and river sediments,” Stoelton said.
He said remediation may take two to three years.
Johnson Controls has no future plans for the property, Stoelton said.
“It will not be residential. But Johnson Controls will ensure it is used in a way that is beneficial to the City of Saline and its residents,” he said.
Mayor Pro-Tem David Rhoads asked if Stoelton knew how much the cleanup cost.
“Yes, I know how much it cost, but I’m not prepared to talk about that,” Stoelton said.
Councilor Dean Girbach asked if ground would be seeded. Stoelton said the company has piles of soil it plans to spread on the site, so it had better places to spend the $60,000 it would cost to seed the property.
Councilor Linda TerHaar said she’s heard from neighbors that the property sometimes smells of chemicals.
Stoelton said there are solvents on the site that could be odiferous.
She asked if there are concerns about remaining contaminants running off into the river. Stoelton said the contaminants have been exposed since 2004.
“Anything that was going to happen has already happened,” he said.
Mayor Brian Marl commended Stoelton and Johnson Controls for its work.
“Remediation of this site is in the community’s interest as a quality of life issue. I have to applaud you sir. You’ve been very direct and forthcoming. You made promises and you kept promises,” Marl said. “Though much work remains undone, much progress has been made.”
Marl said when Johnson Controls submits a remediation plan, he expects council will pass a resolution urging the EPA and federal elected officials to move expeditiously.