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Gary’s Ralston Lagoon could hold Grand Cal sediment

The RalstStreet lagocould get sediment from cleanup GrCalumet River. |  Post-Tribune file photo

The Ralston Street lagoon could get sediment from the cleanup of the Grand Calumet River. | Post-Tribune file photo

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Updated: November 18, 2013 10:40PM



GARY — A study will be done to determine if sediment from the Grand Calumet River cleanup can be deposited into the Ralston Street lagoon.

The 17-acre toxic sludge lagoon sits a few feet from the river, just south of the Gary/Chicago International Airport.

The Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners agreed to enter into the one-year study with the U.S Environmental Protection Agency Monday.

In 2009, the EPA ordered a $66.5 million cleanup of the lagoon that’s filled with toxic PCBs, stemming from decades of dumping municipal sludge. The dumping began in 1962, 14 years before the U.S. banned PCBs. It continued until 1988 when the GSD agreed to clean up the lagoon after a federal judge ordered a consent decree, halting the dumping.

The GSD began cleaning up the lagoon in 2011. Because of the size — more than a half-million cubic yards of sludge — sending it to a landfill was not an option. Crews built a slurry wall to serve as a barrier to contain the pollutants. Next, the sludge in the lagoon will be solidified and capped.

The cleanup involved $1.17 million in costs to relocate about a dozen residents who lived next to the lagoon in an area known as “Cowboy Town.”

Dredging of the Grand Calumet River began in August as part of a $80 million project to remove contaminants and restore habitat along the river. It’s expected to take about three years. A depository for industrial pollutants for decades, the river is on the EPA’s Great Lakes Area of Concerns list. The cleanup is funded by the Great Lakes Legacy Act.

In other business, the GSD board approved an emergency contract for Boyd Construction to fix a failed sanitary sewer at 467 Lincoln St. for $35,682. A second sewer repair contract for $14,000 was approved for Gariup Construction, of Gary, to fix a failed sewer at 400 Broadway.



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