Largest US solar farm on Superfund site now online

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 18, 2014 at 12:20 pm •  Published: April 18, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The nation's largest solar farm built atop a federal Superfund site is now generating power on a tract of land in Indianapolis tainted by a long-shuttered plant's wood-treating operations.

The 43-acre Maywood Solar Farm went online last month, with more than 36,000 solar panels feeding 8 megawatts of electricity into Indianapolis Power & Light's power grid.

The solar farm is the largest built to date on a Superfund site, said Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Francisco Arcaute. The next largest is a 40-acre, 6-megawatt solar farm near Rancho Cordova, Calif.

EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said in a statement that the Indianapolis solar farm "has transformed a site with a long history of contamination into a source of renewable energy for the future."

The agency is encouraging the development of solar, wind and other renewable energy projects on tainted sites. As of last fall, 85 such projects were generating a combined 507 megawatts of power at Superfund sites, landfills and mine sites across the nation.

The Indianapolis property's owner, Vertellus Specialties Inc., worked with the EPA, solar panel maker Hanwha Q CELLS, Indiana's environmental agency, the local utility and other partners to develop the solar farm.

The complex covers about a third of the former 120-acre Reilly Tar & Chemical Corp. site. For several decades, workers there refined coal tar and treated railroad ties and telephone poles with the wood-preservative creosote, a possible human carcinogen. That plant closed in 1972.

Testing during the 1980s showed that groundwater beneath the site was contaminated with the toxic fuel additive benzene, the highly corrosive compound pyridine and ammonia.

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