SHERIDAN – The Sheridan County Conservation District has secured an additional grant for the ongoing Acme Generating Station Refurbishment Project. Although full remediation of the Acme site is still a long way off, SCCD District Manager Carrie Rogaczewski said the new grants will fund the next stages of ongoing soil and water cleanup projects.
“It’s a long-term project. We certainly have no illusions about [the reclamation project] ongoing this year… but there are pieces that will be ongoing,” Rogaczewski said.
The reclamation project began in 2015, when the Conservation District began investigating what environmental clean-up measures would be needed to allow public access and use of the site, protect water quality and land on the Tongue River and preserve the historical significance of the old powerhouse. . While SCCD owns the land on which the power plant sits, a task force comprised of local nonprofits, government agencies, local landowners, environmental organizations and others is guiding the project.
So far, testing at the site has revealed significant soil, groundwater and standing water pollution, as well as large amounts of asbestos and debris throughout the site.
Grant funding will begin to address some of these issues, Rogaczewski said.
The SCCD will, for example, receive a $25,000 grant from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to finalize designs and complete the public bidding process for the removal of a water diversion tunnel at the site, said Rogaczewski. The tunnel, which looks like a sheet of metal through a channel in several stages of decay, has been in place since around 1910, diverting water from the Tongue River to the power station cooling tunnels and down the river.
Rogaczewski explained that the structure presents a barrier to fish migration and a safety hazard to recreational floaters as well as challenges related to stream function and sediment transport, all of which point to the structure needing to be removed or modified for the benefit of the river and its inhabitants.
Designs to remove the current diversion tunnel structure — and implement structures to reduce stream erosion after the structure is removed — are nearly complete, Rogaczewski said. Accordingly, the WGFD grant will fund construction supervision and facilitation of tenders for the removal of the structure. Rogaczewski expects SCCD to issue a tender for construction of the project later this summer.
The SCCD also plans to use a $25,000 grant from The Nature Conservancy, which is to be used for aquatic conservation projects, for the diversion project in Acme.
To begin addressing soil contamination and debris at the Acme site, the SCCD also secured a $500,000 sub-grant – to be disbursed over the next approximately five years – from the Department of Quality. environment of Wyoming and the Wyoming Business Council, said Rogaczewski.
This grant will begin to address a major issue facing the reclamation project: the amount of debris covering the space. Soil contamination control cannot take place until the soil is accessible and the debris has been removed, Rogaczewski explained, and the grant will allow the SCCD to hire a team of environment to direct the debris removal process.
“One of the biggest challenges was how we were going to remove all the debris and dirt [at the Acme site]said SCCD supervisor Susan Holmes.
Currently, the SCCD is still in the early stages of the grant. While clearing that debris is still a long way off, Rogaczewski said she hopes SCCD will be able to solicit bids from environmental professionals in the fall of 2022.
Finally, Rogaczewski said the SCCD is still waiting to hear from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the status of its application, submitted in November 2021, for more than $500,000 in carbon reduction funds. asbestos.
These grants ensure that the rehabilitation project continues to move forward.
“We knew [the Acme Power Plant Reclamation Project] would take a long time, and we understand why it has to. But we also understand the public’s desire and interest to see things happen…” Rogaczewski said. “There’s always something going on with Acme, every day of my week.”