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State's remediation program shows great promise

We are cautiously optimistic about a state program that would allow Harrison County to clean up and potentially sell the abandoned Perry Mines property.

Located along U.S. Route 19, the county-owned land has served as home to a Division of Highways garage, a 911 center and a county vehicle maintenance garage.

Although it was abandoned in 1991 after a fire, the profitably-located land has never been sold because one of the DOH underground tanks had leaked fuel into the ground, according to Commissioner Beth Taylor.

The state Division of Environmental Protection has required that such contaminated land be remediated to a quality consistent with residential standards -- a process commissioners say is cost prohibitive -- before it be sold.

However, a DEP effort begun in 1996 may solve the problem. Geared at redeveloping industrial sites, the Voluntary Remediation Program works on an industrial instead of residential standard. Contaminants are removed, but the property is deeded so that it will not become residential in the future.

While this voluntary remediation will not return the land to its original state, a quicker cleanup of the pollutants and redevelopment of the land is better for the community than a permanent shuttering of the site.

We will be interested in seeing how this program unfolds and how well remediation quality is supervised, both in Harrison County and throughout the state.

More than a costly lesson in not repeating the mistakes of the past, voluntary remediation may provide a way to realistically correct some of our long history of environmental problems.

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Matt Harvey, Nora Edinger and J. Cecil Jarvis.

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