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Cleanup from South High Street controlled burn could cost city more than $100K

residents watch a controlled burn of a house on South High Street last Friday.

(Courtesy photo)

Cleaning up the lead-tainted fallout from last Friday’s controlled burn by the Bloomington Fire Department could cost the city more than $100,000.

The city has contracted with Environmental Assurance Company, Inc., to clean up the affected areas and VET Environmental Engineering to monitor the air while the work continues.

Both began work Tuesday in the neighborhoods west of the burn site on South High Street, where paint flakes, carried in the smoke by the wind, fell like snow over the area as the two-story home burned.

The paint tested positive for lead, which was banned for consumer use by the government in 1978.

The city originally entered an agreement with Servpro on Saturday, but work was quickly halted and Servpro pulled out of the deal. The city then contracted with the Indianapolis-based EACI and Bloomington-based VET.

According to information provided by the city, both contracts have “not to exceed” costs built in. For EACI, that amount is $94,700 on the assumption of 100 homes. For VET, the costs can’t exceed $23,459.20.

The city expects the total cost to be lower than the “not to exceed” amounts. The totals are far less than the original bid by Servpro, which city councilman Dave Rollo, whose district includes the affected area, said was for between $3,000-$5,000 per property.  

The money to cover the cost of the cleanup will come out of the fire department's budget, according to fire chief Jason Moore. He said if the department exceeds its 2021 budget, they could request addition funds at the end of the year.

More than 150 remediation claims have been filed with the city so far. The city has set up a website with information on the burn, safety procedures and how to request remediation. It has also posted flyers in the affected areas.

The city said EACI and VET are evaluating approximately 102 properties, including seven properties in the immediate remediation area.

The fire department used the controlled burn as a training exercise and had the plan approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The city was required to remove carpeting, asphalt shingles, vinyl siding and other materials prior to the burn, but removing lead paint was not mentioned.

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