Cleanup in sight for Amcast?
Contaminated Cedarburg property has been vacant since 2005

By Denise Seyfer - News Graphic Staff

March 5, 2015

Amcast occupies two parcels on Hamilton Road, a manufacturing plant, above,
on the north side of the street and an office on the south side. 

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 studies.

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 documents said.

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 Amcast north

■ Wilshire Pond southeast of the residential yards

■ 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 never analyzed.

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 reached at .