MIDDLEPORT -- Preliminary work began in the village this week on the next phase of a long-running cleanup of arsenic-contaminated soil.
Dana R. Thompson, plant manager for FMC Corp., the company responsible for the cleanup, said the company's contractor plans to begin removing and replacing the soil at 12 homes on Park Avenue the week of Aug. 6 -- if the residents consent.
"[Residents] can opt out as to whether they want their properties remediated," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Michael Basile said. "It's all subject to them giving access to FMC. If for some reason one or more doesn't want to give access to their property, they can't come in and do [the work]."
Mayor Julie Maedl said she has heard rumblings that some residents may not take part.
"It seems like it's never going to end," she said. "There's no evidence we can see of any health pockets in the village. . . . People are getting upset, and they're starting to ask some pretty heated questions."
At a public meeting last month, many residents questioned the need for further cleanup, which they said is imposing a stigma on Middleport and crushing its real estate market.
Maedl said urine analysis of more than 400 residents in 2004 showed no elevated arsenic levels.
Thompson said the neighborhood liaison office FMC set up at 17 Vernon St. has been buzzing, and the company has met with all affected residents regarding its latest plans.
FMC is under orders from the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation and the EPA to clean up the arsenic, a byproduct of decades of agricultural chemical production at the FMC plant.
This will be the third "big dig" in Middleport. In 2003, 14 homes were stripped of their soil and backfilled, and before that, most of the Royalton-Hartland Central School campus received similar treatment.
The goal is to reduce the arsenic levels in the soil to at least 20 parts per million, which the environmental agencies regard as a safe background level. Readings on the site to be cleaned next month show levels at 40 parts per million or more.
Thompson said FMC began removing trees and shrubs on the so-called Coe property, a wooded area that abuts the Park Avenue homes on the south.
The plan is to clean up the homes first and then take on a large culvert that runs through the village from Margaret Droman Park to residential areas on the north bank of the Erie Canal. The target date to start work on the culvert is Aug. 20, Thompson said.
The dirt removed from the homes and the culvert will be hauled across the Coe property to the FMC plant and disposed of in a 21-acre "surface impoundment area." The areaI already contains a 70,000-cubic-yard pile of dirt 20 feet high from previous cleanups, but the listed capacity is 338,000 cubic yards.
Thompson said FMC hired ENTACT, a Dallas-based company, to do the work, while Parsons Corp. has supplied an engineer to oversee it.
After the homes and the culvert are completed, the Coe property itself will be cleaned, and the final segment of this year's remediation will occur along a railroad track near the plant that has seen some cleanup work before.