Planning commission votes against solar array proposal - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Planning commission votes against solar array proposal

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- People living in the northeast part of Carbondale worry soil around the old Koppers Wood Treatment Facility is still contaminated with a chemical that could make them sick.

A developer wants to build a solar farm at the old property but the Carbondale Planning Commission voted against the proposal this week.

For nearly 90 years, workers at the Koppers Wood Treatment Facility in Carbondale used a solution with creosote to treat wood, meant to prevent decay.

It closed in 1991 and in 2003, the EPA found high levels of contamination.

The agency tested samples at the site a few years and found no problems, but residents still believe there's contamination.

"They said they had a company come out and clean up the soil but I just believe putting something out there is going to stir up the creosote that's left in the ground," Myra McDaniel said.

McDaniel's family has lived near the Koppers plant since the late 70s.

"That plant was there for a long time and there was a lot of that in the soil, and I just don't know," McDaniel said. "I haven't seen data to show it could be completely cleaned from the soil."

The EPA said creosote can irritate the eyes, skin or lungs and people have died in rare cases.

Dan Voss, vice president of BrightFields Development, said there's no need for people to be concerned about his solar farm proposal for the property, especially since other uses of the property are already allowed.

"We hope that folks realize that, in fact, this is the best alternative use of the site," Voss said.

And he plans to move forward with the project.

"We still believe in what we presented," Voss said.

McDaniel and other residents plan to continue pushing against it.

The city council plans to meet Tuesday to vote on the project.

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