Friday, May 13, 2022

Freak mishap at Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport (KAIZ) could be costly

A freak mishap at Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport could end up costing the City of Osage Beach a lot of unbudgeted money.

CMT Construction, LLC, had begun work in early March on the second half of a new apron at the airport in hopes it would be completed by Memorial Day. The first half was completed last fall and the second half scheduled this spring to avoid as little disruption to airport traffic as possible. The intent was to be able to use half of the apron during the slowest part of the year during the off season.

By March 24, the contractor had removed all of the existing pavement from the second half of the apron. But while a subcontractor was tilling the ground to prepare for lime stabilization that is required before new pavement is poured, the ground actually caught fire and a small flash explosion occurred. There were no injuries, but the project was halted immediately to investigate.

City officials and construction crews immediately realized the soil had been contaminated by fuel from an unknown source. Some additional work was done away from the area, but the contractor eventually had to pull equipment from the site and move on to its next project while an investigation ensued.

The investigation found that the fuel was from an old utility trench that was connected to five underground fuel storage tanks that were removed by the state before the city took over operation of the airport in the late 1990s. The utility corridor was roughly 125 feet long, five feet wide and two feet deep. It ran from near the existing above-ground fueling area about 125 feet.

As it turns out, the state paved over the area after removing the tanks and the trench had been under pavement for more than 20 years until the contractor removed the pavement early in March.

The remediation plan is to dig out the contaminated area, remove the contaminated soil away from the existing hangars and fueling area and then backfill the trench with clean material. The contaminated soil will be wrapped in specialized plastic until the Department of Natural Resources, State Parks Department, insurance companies and others figure out what to do with the soil.

Removing the soil a safe distance from the area will allow the contractor to return to the site and complete the apron project by late June – weather permitting.

The situation raises several questions for the board and staff to consider:

•Who will pay for remediation. The DNR, State Parks, the city's insurance company and the petroleum storage tank insurance will determine who is ultimately liable.

•It has not been determined what to do with the contaminated soil and the unknown cost of its removal. It will either be de-contaminated on site and land applied in its place, or it will be taken to a landfill in Jefferson City.

•Drinking water at Lee C. Fine was tested and found to be clean. The DNR will require several test wells to be dug for future monitoring and to act as an early warning system to determine if additional contamination is moving toward the city's well. Those costs also are unknown.

•There is still some contamination under some pavement that is not being removed in the apron project. The city may be required to remove that pavement and conduct additional cleanup. Those costs also are unknown.

•There will be additional costs from CMT and its subcontractor for soil testing before and after removal of the contaminated soil and for additional construction inspection. Again, these are unknown costs.

City input

City Administrator Jeana Wood told the board it is imperative that the project move forward and correct the issue. Outside funding and reimbursements to cover remediation costs will have to be determined later. Currently, the Lee C. Fine Airport is subsidized by the Transpiration Fund, but its cash flow is not sufficient to cover any anticipated costs.

The board did approve a change order with Emery Sapp and Sons in the amount of $49,398 to undertake the preliminary work.

Additional budget amendments will be forthcoming.