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City pushing abandoned plant site for solar panel farm

COLUMBUS — The city of Columbus has asked the federal government to consider a solar panel farm at the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Plant.

The Commercial Dispatch reports the Environmental Protect Agency has agreed to study the site to determine what kind and whether a renewable energy facility can be built on the property.

The city is proposing a portable two-megawatt solar panel farm on 25 of the property’s 90 acres. The farm would power one-fifth, or 2,000, of the city’s 10,000 households.

The city also proposed an expansion to 50 acres if the EPA determines it is feasible, to provide energy for a community center, small businesses, community health center, parks and gardens.

The panels have a life span of 20 to 25 years.

The choice of the Kerr-McGee property is part of the EPA’s $1 million RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative. The Columbus site is one of 26 sites to be analyzed for its suitability for wind, solar, biomass or geothermal energy, according to the EPA.

In September, the EPA announced the Kerr-McGee plant had been added to its Superfund list, a program for cleaning up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites.

The Columbus plant for many years had turned timber into railroad crossties soaked with creosote as a preservative. Creosote is a mix of heavy metals and cancer-causing dioxins.

The EPA has been scrutinizing the Kerr-McGee site since alarms were raised about possible contamination in the 1990s.

The plant opened in 1928 and was closed by Kerr-McGee in 2003.

After closing the Columbus facility, Kerr-McGee Corp. spun off its chemical division in 2005 and changed the name to Tronox.

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