Workers load up faulty filtration device. Photo: John Ross Ferrara.

This morning, reader Jamye Weseloh wrote the LoCO:

There is some intense vacuuming going on at the toxic abatement site at the old Norman’s Dry Cleaners. People are vacuuming the sidewalk and adjacent parking areas. Wondering if there was a spill … [T]here was black residue on the ground that was being vacuumed up.

There was! Or at least a bit of one. But it should be all cleaned up now, and it seems not to have been a danger to the public.

For readers unfamiliar with Henderson Center goings-on: The place Weseloh’s talking about is the little shopping complex on the corner of E and Grotto streets that used to house Norman’s Dry Cleaners. The site was identified many years ago as very badly contaminated, and a major environmental remediation project got underway last year.

So what was going on today? Dave Parson, who is leading the project for the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board, told the Outpost that one of the big, green filtration devices at the scene failed, releasing some granulated activated carbon. Work was brought to a halt yesterday and today to clean it up, but it never posed a threat to public health and work is now back on track, Parson said.

While we had him on the phone, we asked Parson if he had any updates about the timetable for the entire cleanup operation at the site, which has peeved neighbors a bit in the past. He said that everything is going pretty smoothly. There are three phases to the project, he said: the cleanup of the site itself, the replacement of the street’s sewer main, and “deep groundwater” remediation. The first two phases should be wrapped up by the end of the year, Parson said, with work on the sewer main beginning this summer. (It’ll extend out into the street, so expect some traffic rerouting.)

The groundwater remediation will last for a few years. They’re going to build a little on-site treatment plant, which will take water pumped up from the depths and scour toxins from it. 

Parson said he was happy to hear that neighbors like Weseloh are paying attention to what’s happening at the site, and he commended her for bringing it to the Outpost’s attention. “It’s good to hear that the lines of communication are working,” he said.

Giant vacuuming device at the scene. Photo: John Ross Ferrara.