Cleanup in sight for Amcast?
Contaminated Cedarburg property has been vacant since 2005
By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic Staff
Amcast occupies two parcels on
Hamilton Road, a manufacturing plant, above,
on the north side of the street and an office on the
Photo by Mark Justesen
CEDARBURG — Anticipating guidance and a remediation
strategy for the Amcast Industrial Corporation site,
Cedarburg city officials are awaiting word of a clean-up
plan or alternative from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency after nearly a decade of talks and
Designated an EPA Superfund site in 2009, the Hamilton
Road property has caused city, local law enforcement and
nearby residents problems without any clear-cut
solutions, city officials said recently.
“It’s a critical piece of property,” said council member
Paul Radtke at Monday’s Common Council meeting during
discussions about potential interest in the site. “It’s
a safety hazard; it’s an environment hazard.”
City leaders were recently
approached by several parties interested in
rehabilitating the site. One of those was Cedarburg
resident and member of the city’s Economic and
Development Committee, DJ Burns.
Burns has not revealed publicly what
those plans could entail, but the Common Council is
preparing for any movement on the site as well as an EPA
report later this year. It approved contracting with
Charles Sweeney of Axley Brynelson law firm, who
specializes in environmental law. The firm’s services
will include advising on the redevelopment of the Amcast
site and obtaining consent from the EPA and the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The city’s main priorities are to
secure the site and prepare it for possible
redevelopment, said City Attorney Michael Herbrand.
“The property has fallen into
disrepair; it’s a nuisance,” Herbrand said, citing the
frequency of calls to the Cedarburg Police Department
for trespassing and theft issues.
The Amcast property requires
expensive remediation, according to the EPA. Reports
indicate one plant may have emptied PCBs from hydraulic
fluids and cutting and grinding oils used into Cedar
Creek through storm sewers. The compounds emptied into
Hamilton Pond upstream of Green Bay Road, the EPA
PCBs have been linked to an increase
in cancer and reproductive and developmental problems.
Over the past several years, the
federal agency has gathered numerous data and compiled
them into multiple reports. Its approximately 750-page
Data Evaluation Report, published in 2013, describes
soil samples taken on the Amcast property in 2011 as
well as on nearby private property between Hamilton Road
and Wilshire Drive. A Community Involvement Plan was
published the year before. Both are available on the
EPA’s Amcast webpage,
“In addition, we plan to post the
Remedial Investigation Report on the webpage in the near
future,” said EPA Remedial Project Manager Scott Hansen,
adding the 2015 report will contain a more detailed
characterization of the site.
The report will be the basis for a
feasibility study that will examine several possible
cleanup options as well as recommend one that appears
most appropriate for the properties, Hansen said. The
public will have a chance to comment sometime in 2016,
with a final cleanup decision thereafter.
Amcast was an automotive diecasting
industry supplier in Cedarburg from 1939 until 2004,
when it first filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It did so
again in 2005.
Burns told the city’s Economic and
Development Committee, he continues to work with the DNR
and Amcast bankruptcy attorneys on a clean-up strategy
for the site.
EPA actions focused on evaluating:
■ The Quarry Pond in Zeunert Park
■ Residential yards southeast of
■ Wilshire Pond southeast of the
■ Storm sewers that connect the
areas to the former main plant
■ Groundwater well installations on
the Amcast property Due to heavy rains and high creek
flow in 1996, the Hamilton Dam collapsed and was
removed. After the pond drained, it left behind several
acres of mud flats containing PCBs.
In 2003, Amcast joined in a remedial
investigation order along with Cedar Creek with the EPA.
Since the company filed for bankruptcy, the Amcast
portion of the project was separated from Cedar Creek in
2009. EPA is using Superfund money to address the
contamination at and near the company’s property.
Sewers near the Amcast plant and
soil under the building were sampled in November 2005.
Though after Amcast had filed for bankruptcy, the
contractor was told to stop working and the results were
Soil samples were also taken on
private properties near the Amcast plant in summer 2005.
Some of those samples showed PCB contamination slightly
above what EPA considers to be safe levels.
Denise Seyfer can be