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More excavation required at Majestic Hotel site

Sixty tons of material have been excavated from the Majestic Hotel site since remediation work began Aug. 28, but the city said earlier this week lead concentrations over the allowed limit are present outside the area targeted for removal.

The 9.5 cubic feet of lead-contaminated soil identified in the Property Development Document Decision the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality issued in May has been removed, the city said, but test samples from the western edge of the excavated area show lead concentrations in excess of the 200 milligrams/kilogram limit.

Concentrations below that level are required before ADEQ will grant an environmental clearance for the property and allow the city to begin redeveloping it. The area ADEQ identified in May is where the hotel laundry was located. It's 2 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep.

Samples collected during the environmental site assessment completed last year showed lead concentrations at 447 milligrams/kilogram, according to the May document.

"The affected area will be larger than the initial 9.5 cubic feet," Assistant City Manager/City Clerk Lance Spicer said. "The uphill side of the hole is the elevated lead level, so we will likely need to excavate more soil in that direction. Otherwise, the hole that was dug on Aug. 28 removed all the lead-contaminated soil, with the exception of the western uphill side of the hole."

Interim City Manager Bill Burrough told the Hot Springs Board of Directors earlier this week test samples taken by Terracon Consultants Inc. should give the city a better sense of where to dig.

"Instead of just continuously digging, we had them come back (Monday) and dig some test holes so we can find where we're clean and get a boundary of what else needs to be taken out," he said. "We know what depth we have to be where we're getting clean soil. We know the north and south parameters. Now we just have to determine the east and west. Once that's mitigated we should be done."

Burrough said the contamination does not appear to be indigenous to the site, explaining it is likely a product of construction activity. According to the Property Development Document Decision, the "yellow brick" building that was demolished during the suppression of a February 2014 fire was built in 1908.

The city completed demolition in late 2016 of the "red brick" building built in 1926, the Lanai Suites built in 1958 and the Lanai Tower built in 1964.

"It may go all the way back to when the building was built," Burrough told the board. "The contamination does not appear to have come from this particular site. It's in the fill that was brought in to build the building."

Spicer said the 10,000-gallon concrete fuel bunker to the east of the laundry has been removed. The property could have been cleared without removing the bunker, but the city did not want it to be a cause of concern during redevelopment.

The bunker was filled and enclosed with 5.5 yards of concrete in 2010, according to a letter ADEQ received from the contractor who enclosed the bunker.

Spicer said all of the excavated materials have been disposed of in the Saline County Regional Solid Waste Facility. The city's solid waste department hauled off the bunker in three loads and the lead-contaminated soil in one load.

The city purchased the 5-acre Majestic property from Park Residences Development for $672,782 in September 2015 after condemning it earlier that year. Almost $1.4 million was spent demolishing and removing the condemned structures.

Local on 09/14/2018

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