In June 2017, the city of Oshkosh received the final Wisconsin DNR approval of the remediation of the former Mercury Marine facility on the Fox River. In 2006, the city acquired the closed facility from Mercury Marine with hopes to convert the property into a new and improved community asset. The city used EPA brownfields grants for assessment and cleanup work on the properties as well as state, city, and private funding.
A new riverwalk provides additional community access to the waterfront.
This property housed industrial facilities since the mid-1800s. Past uses of the land include a lumber business, candle company, and a bulk fuel tank farm. The site was then owned by the Kiekhaefer Aeromarine Company who then sold it to Mercury Marine in the mid-1970s. A range of contamination types were identified at the site as well as several feet of waste fill across the entire property. Metals, petroleum contamination, and chlorinated compounds were identified in the soil and groundwater.
The city removed much of the contamination while using buildings and parking lots to serve as a cover over the residual contaminated soil. In addition, the cleanup included an innovative approach where they left one area of heavily contaminated soil under a newly created, city owned, small park. This park serves as a protective barrier, saves project funds and creates additional public green space. This park connects to a new public riverwalk and piers along the river. The city partnered with a private developer to build three high quality apartment buildings, two specifically for senior residents. The site went through the DNR’s Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program and received a Certificate of Completion in August 2017 which provides liability protections for current and future property owners.
The Royster Clark project benefited from several financial incentives including the DNR’s Ready for Reuse program.
After more than 200 environmental reports and approvals over the course of ten years, the Wisconsin DNR issued a final Certificate of Completion for the former Royster-Clark facility in Madison. The Certificate of Completion was issued in March 2017 when the Wisconsin DNR approved the final investigation and remedial action and provided a liability exemption through the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program.
The 27 acre Royster-Clark facility was once a fertilizer factory operating from 1952 until it closed in 2006. In 2011, Ruedebusch Development and Construction (RDC), a Madison-based real estate developer, purchased the property and took on the task of cleanup and redevelopment of the unique project.
The cleanup included contamination from leaking underground storage tanks and the excavation of more than 50,000 tons of nitrogen-contaminated soil removed from the site. The property went through extensive meetings, planning and approvals from the neighborhood association and the city of Madison. The redevelopment, some of which is already complete, includes affordable housing, market rate apartments, and commercial development, including a new public library branch and potential grocery store. The project also includes 50+ lots ready for single family homes.
The cleanup project benefited from several financial incentives including the Wisconsin DNR’s Ready for Reuse program, which is funded through a RLF brownfields grant from the EPA, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation grants, and funding from the city of Madison.
The Remediation and Redevelopment Program has finalized a guidance document to help people using the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption program. The final version of the document, “Frequently Asked Questions about the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE),” DNR publication RR-507, is now available. The VPLE program allows people to conduct an environmental investigation and cleanup of a contaminated property with DNR oversight and receive an exemption from future liability. This document provides detailed information about the VPLE program that has helped facilitate many successful brownfield remediation and redevelopment projects across Wisconsin.
The DNR response to public comments received about this guidance is also available. Questions should be directed to Michael Prager, 608-261-4927.
The Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) Insurance fee schedule (RR-661) is now updated and available on the DNR website. The VPLE program allows anyone to conduct an assessment and remedial action of an entire property with DNR oversight to obtain a liability exemption. Insurance is required for VPLE sites where groundwater contamination levels are above enforcement standards and the DNR determines that natural attenuation will restore groundwater quality.
The new insurance fees have gone down slightly and will be in effect until November 1, 2018. The application form, process, and the former use categories (commercial, light industrial, etc.) remain the same.
VPLE insurance is now provided through Ironshore Insurance Services. Any questions about this insurance requirement should be directed to Michael Prager, (608) 261-4927.
The DNR Remediation and Redevelopment program has prepared a biannual report on the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program. The report, required by law, provides the legislature and the Governor information about the performance of the VPLE program. The Program, which has helped many brownfields redevelopment projects across the state, allows for anyone to conduct an environmental investigation and remedial action of an entire property with DNR oversight and receive exemptions from liability. The report is available here: http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/rr/RR929.pdf
The Remediation and Redevelopment Program has recalculated the hourly review fee rate for sites in the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE) program. As required by law (Wis. Admin. § NR 750.07), the fee is calculated each year using the rates for current wages, fringe and indirect costs. The rate will not change for the upcoming year and will continue to be $105/hour for the state fiscal year 2017 which began July 1, 2016 and ends June 30, 2017. This rate has remained unchanged since July 2014.
The Wisconsin DNR’s VPLE program allows for anyone to conduct a complete investigation and remedial action of a piece of property and receive an exemption from future liability that is transferable to future property owners. Participants in the VPLE program pay this fee for DNR staff to provide technical oversight of the work conducted as part of the remediation process.
More information about the VPLE program is available on the RR Program website: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/brownfields/vple.html.