Long gone industrial plant still costing Sanford residents


Sanford taxpayers are paying a portion of a $27 million cleanup project that is the result of a mess that began nearly a century ago.

The old Sanford Gasification Plant on Sixth Street was used to turn coal into gas. It was in use from the 1880s until the early 1950s.

The plant was torn down years ago but the mess left behind is still lurking underground.

The Environmental Protection Agency forced Sanford to spend $2.8 million to contain pollution which was buried on plant grounds.

While the city has paid for just a portion of the cleanup costs, they are going to have to pay the costs to make sure the pollutants aren't getting into drinking water.

The city is paying another $245,000 so the federal government can monitor the site for the next 30 years.

City officials said residents' drinking water is fine because Sanford, and the other groups that used to run the plant, contained the pollution in a mixture of soil and concrete. That mixture, along with a large grass covered mound over the polluted area, keeps rainwater from coming in contact with the pollutants.

"If it is going to be beneficial and worth it, I think it is our job to take care of it," said Sanford resident James Player.

Some residents said they are glad the multimillion-dollar project is finally wrapping up. Many wonder why the problem wasn't fixed sooner.

"Well, it does seem like it's been delayed enough, but cleaning up would be good," said Sanford resident Gloria Player.

City officials said pollution at the site has come from a number of companies over the years, and those companies are picking up the biggest portion of the cleanup bill.