FRANKFORT, Ind. (AP) — After two government-supervised cleanups, federal officials say land once occupied by a porcelain enamel manufacturing plant that left soils tainted with lead and other heavy metals is ready to return to commercial use.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the 13-acre parcel, known as the Augustus Hook site, near Frankfort, Ind., is now in good enough condition to be sold.
A real estate company plans to put the site, once on the EPA's environmental Superfund list, up for auction on Nov. 14. That auction comes about a year and a half after the EPA deemed the land ''ready for reuse'' — meaning pollutants have been removed from it.
Clinton County officials hope the upcoming auction will attract new commercial life.
Shan Sheridan, assistant director of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, said one advantage to the August Hook site is its proximity to Indiana 28. The road recently was rebuilt as a four-lane divided highway running to Interstate 65.
He said local officials hope to lure a company or industry to the site because it lies right at the west entrance to the city about 20 miles southeast of Lafayette.
John Hook, president of 815 Realty, which owns the land, said the pollutants came from a porcelain factory that had operated across Indiana 28 from the site. The factory, called Ingram-Richardson Inc., had dumped waste that contained lead and other heavy metals there.
He said his company, the government and an insurance agency have since spent nearly $5.5 million on the cleanup.
According to the EPA's Superfund Web site, Ingram-Richardson Inc. used the site as a disposal area some time after 1953 for plant wastes into a four-to six-acre wetland area.
Tom Bloom, EPA Superfund redevelopment coordinator, said the government had first tried to prevent the contamination from spreading by mixing soil at the site with a chemical they had hoped would bond to the lead and heavy metals.
Later tests showed that method had failed, so the soil was dug up and hauled to a landfill.
Hook said if the government's assurance that the site is ready is not enough to entice a buyer, knowing the extent of the work done there should.
''The property has been cleaned up twice,'' he said. ''There is nothing in that property that can harm anyone.''
Johnny Swalls, an auctioneer hired to sell the Augustus Hook site, said he has received calls from 11 people or businesses interested in the land.