SHERIDAN — The Sheridan County Conservation District held a public forum on Jan. 24, sharing updates for the Acme site, including the removal of all drums, current clean-up plan grants and future discussion of preserving the Acme power plant building.
The informational meeting was intended to focus on key elements of the site and to preserve and document the history of the Acme power plant.
The Department of Environmental Quality has been working on the site, said Susan Holmes, Chair of the Sheridan County Conservation District Board of Supervisors.
SCCD received an assessment grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for restoration of the Acme site.
“The process of the assessment has just started now,” Holmes said. “The phases are to prep work plans and define them while the site is being investigated.”
The intent of work funded by the grant is to restore soil and ground water while developing clean-up plans and cost estimates.
“The physical work is done,” Holmes said. “Workers have removed and contained all drums from the site and two loads of waste has made it to the landfill.”
The next step for the project is the structure of the Acme power plant building, which is not included in the DEQ’s plan, Holmes said. The conservation board will be seeking funding to fix the building as a separate plan and determine if the building can be saved.
“Since the assessment of this work has just begun, we are expected to see a three-year term, the same time before the clean up plan is completed,” Holmes said.
The financial investment in the site has reached an estimated $550,000, with a vast majority of funding coming from the state and federal grants.
Three graduate students from the Haub School at the University of Wyoming came to Sheridan and collected oral history at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library and also utilized resources at the university to document the history of the Acme site.
The students, while working closely with the SCCD board, focused on preserving the cultural aspects of the Acme power plant.
The three graduate students collected old photographs, visited with people who had grown up in the Acme area and interviewed those who had worked for the power plant.
WWC, a local engineering firm, was hired by SCCD to do initial site stabilization and presented at the forum on Thursday, too.
There are major health and safety risks at the site.
Holmes said people continue to trespass on to the premises, not realizing they are endangering themselves by being in contact with high volumes of asbestos, lead paint and many other hidden hazards.
They can also be susceptible to tracking contaminants off the Acme site, putting others and the environment at risk, Holmes said.
Around 40 people attended the forum.
“Gaining more interest in this project from the public will help us not only in completing the site, but will honor Acme’s history,” Holmes said.