Quincy Smelting Works
By KURT HAUGLIE
RIPLEY – Since 2009, several cleanup efforts have taken place at the former site of the Quincy Smelting Works, and one more cleanup is taking place on the site, according to Scott See.
See, executive director of the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Advisory Commission, said the National Park Service is overseeing the latest cleanup, which will get possibly the final remnants of contaminated material on the site.
Franklin Township took ownership of the site in 1999 after Quincy Development Corporation was unable to fulfill obligations for its development. In October 2012, the Franklin Township Board of Trustees and the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission came to an agreement for the sale of the site for $335,000, plus the forgiveness of $11,437 in loans from the Advisory Commission to the township.
The Advisory Commission made a down payment of $2,000 on Oct. 22, 2012. The original agreement gave until Sept. 30, 2015, to pay off the $335,000 sale price. However, the final payment was made in August 2014. The intention is that in the future, the site will be turned over to the NPS to operate.
The NPS sought and received funding for the current cleanup project from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, See said. The NPS has contracted with the Army Corps of Engineers to do the work.
In July 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency did a large-scale asbestos clean up at the site. In 2011, the EPA capped some stamp sand piles to east of the smelter site. In 2014, the Advisory Commission did a cleanup of oil and gasoline contamination, and materials with arsenic and mercury.
The current cleanup has four parts, See said. There is a sewer pipe, which contains mercury, which has to be removed, but that problem isn’t as bad as originally thought.
A building known as the ice house was torn down. See said that site was contaminated.
“There was material in it that affected the groundwater,” he said.
The debris from the building will be removed, See said, and the soil beneath the site will be excavated to about 3 feet.
There are about 12 piles of debris in various locations on the site, which will be removed, also, See said.
Throughout the site, See said there are many abandoned containers. Some will be removed. Some will be cleaned up and left on site because of their historic significance.
The cleanup work is expected to take about two weeks, See said.
“We’re hoping they’re going to be wrapped up by the eighth of July,” he said.
Despite the ongoing work, See said the Quincy Smelter Association has planned tours of the site from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 25.