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EPA applauds companies for voluntary cleanup in Commerce City

Release Date: 6/3/2003
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      Denver -- Nearly 150 companies were lauded today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for voluntarily financing the cleanup of an abandoned oil recycling facility in Commerce City.

In a ceremony at the Approved Oil Services site, a facility that served as a used oil recycling operation between 1976 and 1998, the EPA’s Region 8 Regional Administrator, Robert Roberts, recognized the companies for taking environmental matters into their own hands.

“Thanks to these 147 companies, this property will soon be cleaned up and returned to the community for productive use,” Roberts said. “This is a terrific example of how private and public resources can work together to achieve better, cheaper and faster cleanups.”

EPA site investigations in 1992 and 1999 revealed numerous contaminants in soil and groundwater, including solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides and PCBs. The investigation also revealed the potential for contamination of nearby surface waters through storm water runoff.

Some clean up work was accomplished before Approved Oil Services became insolvent in 1998, but much was left undone. In 2001, representatives of companies that previously contributed waste to the facility organized themselves as the Approved Oil Services stakeholder steering committee and approached the EPA with an offer to clean up the site.

Kevin Baker, a member of the steering committee, said that the group collected proportionately equitable financial resources from many of the facility’s past waste contributors. Collaborations among the steering committee, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the EPA resulted in a plan that will clean up the site for unrestricted redevelopment for approximately $720,000.

Cleanup activities are currently underway at the site and include removing existing structures and tanks, replacing contaminated soil and disposing of contaminants off-site. The property is expected to be ready for redevelopment by fall.

Kevin Baker said that he hopes the benefits of the cleanup will have a positive impact on the citizens of Commerce City as well as the state of Colorado. He said that the support of government throughout this project signals a new and cooperative way to resolve multi-party cleanup sites.

“This was simply the smartest and most efficient way to clean up this environmentally challenged site," Baker said. "This effort demonstrates that voluntary cleanups can be accomplished.”

Commerce City Mayor, Sean Ford, said that the cleanup is one of the first in a series of steps planned to revitalize this part of Commerce City.

“This property very well could have remained a blight in our community for decades,” Ford said. “Thanks to the 147 companies, the EPA and the State of Colorado, a new company will be able to operate here and contribute to the continued growth and revitalization of Commerce City.”