News

Site on Cedar Lake removed from Superfund list

Electro-Coatings delisting, first in Iowa since 2005, helps remove stigma for lake poised for redevelopment, officials say

Cedar Lake is shown in an aerial photograph in 2015. (The Gazette)
Cedar Lake is shown in an aerial photograph in 2015. (The Gazette)

A site on the north side of Cedar Lake has been removed from the federal Superfund list — the first Iowa site delisted since 2005 — after reviews in 2015 and 2017 showed it no longer is a risk to human health or the environment.

Electro-Coatings Inc., at 911 Shaver Rd. NE, was one of 12 sites across the United States deleted from the Superfund site list in fiscal 2019 after being on the priorities list for 30 years, according to a report the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released Tuesday.

“Delisting the site helps remove the stigma of having a superfund listing,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a call with reporters Tuesday morning. “With our focus over the last 20 years on the reuse of superfund sites, we’re seeing a lot of redevelopment at those sites.”

The 120-acre Cedar Lake is the focus of a $20 million privately led revitalization that would add a pedestrian bridge and trails and feature kayaking and fishing. The city last year committed $1 million per year for five years to the project and agreed to take over management of the lake by its parks department.

Cedar Lake, the longtime cooling pond for an Alliant Energy coal-fired power plant just north of downtown, has had a host of industrial neighbors in past decades.

Electro-Coatings, in operations since 1947, historically did chromium, cadmium, nickel and zinc plating, the EPA reported. The company still does nickel, copper and chrome plating, according to the company website.

A company representative declined to comment Tuesday on the site’s removal from the Superfund list.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

In March 1975, a yellow tinge in water being discharged to Cedar Lake was found to have high levels of chromium, which was tracked to a leaking concrete tank at the Electro-Coatings plant, the EPA reported.

Chlorinated solvents also were detected in groundwater at the site.

“Electro-Coatings immediately took actions to stop the leak and conducted improvements to prevent additional contaminant releases from their facility,” the EPA said.

The EPA placed the site on the Superfund list in 1989 because of concern the chromium contamination might affect city wells, but no impact on the city wells has ever been found, according to the EPA.

In 1999, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources signed a consent order with Electro-Coatings to initiate a cleanup plan, which included ongoing monitoring and steps to pump and treat water near the site.

Between 2000 and 2013, Electro-Coatings paid the DNR $35,000 for its actions overseeing the cleanup performed by the company.

The company paid the EPA $173,000 in 2002 for oversight activities, the EPA reported.

Dale Todd, a Cedar Rapids City Council member who has been working on Cedar Lake redevelopment for years, said the Superfund site delisting is good news.

“This takes away part of the urban myth of the lake that it was super contaminated and fish will never reproduce and that you should stay out of the water,” Todd said.

Cedar Lake was listed as impaired water in 1986 because of other industrial compounds found in it. The lake made it off the list in 2015 and a 2016 DNR report found fewer traces of the compounds in fish.

Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.