Environment

Work still has yet to begin on cleaning up a contaminated industrial site in Louisville’s Park Hill neighborhood.

Five years ago, regulators found high levels of chemicals — like pesticides, heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — in the soil at the Black Leaf site. Some of the chemicals had migrated to nearby yards, and more than five dozen were remediated.

But the 29-acre Black Leaf site itself is still contaminated.

Earlier this year, the Kentucky Division of Waste Management announced that the responsible parties — which include Exxon Mobile and Occidental Chemical Corporation — wanted to clean the property up to commercial standards. That’s less stringent than cleaning it up to residential standards, and it means some amounts of pollution would be left on site.

But Tim Hubbard of the Division of Waste Management said so far, the state hasn’t been able to sign off on a plan.

“Our goal is to get the property cleaned up by whomever chooses to do so, and whoever submits a plan we can approve,” he said. “The plans that have been submitted so far lacked detail as far as certain aspects of the work that’s going to be completed.”

Hubbard said further complicating matters is the fact that the state is evaluating two different cleanup plans.

The corporations with ties to the site submitted one, and property owner Tony Young submitted another. Hubbard said ideally, the plans could be meshed together with everyone on board. But ultimately, if one plan meets the state’s criteria and one doesn’t, the state will have to move forward and approve the best one for the cleanup.

There’s also the fact that one of the responsible parties — Maxus Energy — filed for bankruptcy last summer.

Hubbard said optimistically, the state should be able to sign off on a plan in the next few months.

“Hopefully we get a plan that’s satisfactory to everyone and get that property cleaned up and make it protective for human health and the environment,” he said. “That’s our goal.”

Once the state has an acceptable cleanup plan, it will be presented to the public at a meeting for input before it’s finalized.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Assignment Editor.