The Sheridan County Conservation District was awarded a $585,000 Cleanup Grant through the US Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program to address asbestos contamination at the former Acme Power Plant. The focus of the grant is for asbestos abatement in the buildings. Whether or not the structures are able to be reused, the asbestos needs to be addressed so that other contamination can be addressed. The cleanup grant will complement other activities planned at the site, including soil cleanup and debris removal, which are being funded through other sources. The required match for the grant is $117,000.
Emerson Scott, Conservation District Board Chair, expressed excitement at being one of the grant recipients: “Projects of this size and complexity require a lot of partners, coordination, and patience. This truly is a larger effort that wouldn’t be possible without the support of multiple agencies, groups, and individuals. Carrie Rogaczewski, District Manager, is to be commended for building and nurturing the partnerships that allowed this grant to be possible. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to begin the next phase.”
An EPA Assessment Grant administered by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Voluntary Remediation Program confirmed large quantities of asbestos in buildings and in soils at the site. Addressing asbestos within the buildings will prevent transport of asbestos into the surrounding area. Susan Holmes, Conservation District Board and member of the Acme Working Group noted that “whether or not any of the structures can be maintained or reused, removing the asbestos is a necessary step. Even if structures have to be demolished, disposal would be more challenging and costly if the asbestos is not addressed first. Where reuse of structures is not feasible, bricks and/or other materials may be able to be incorporated into other features at the site. Where structures can be reused, removing asbestos will enable other contamination to be addressed.”
As a coal-fired power plant constructed in 1910, Acme was an important component of the region’s cultural and industrial history; however, the current condition impacts water and land quality, recreational activities, and the health and safety of residents and tourists. While specific future uses have not been determined, expectations for any future use include protecting water and land quality, ensuring public access, and capturing the historical importance. Using information from the initial community visioning session (in 2017), previous public meetings, and other feedback, the Acme Working Group identified outdoor recreation as a priority for future reuse.
The Acme Power Plant Reclamation Project is a community effort to address environmental and safety concerns at the former Acme Power Plant located along the Tongue River. A project website (www.acmeprojectwyoming.org) includes more information. The Acme Working Group was formed in December 2017 to provide technical guidance and assistance to the Sheridan County Conservation District, who currently owns the site and is responsible for overall project coordination.