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011113ho-chamberlain-demolition

Underground storage tanks at uncovered during demolition of Chamberlain Manufacturing in Waterloo. (COURTESY PHOTO)

WATERLOO, Iowa --- Demolition crews have uncovered four railroad cars buried at the former Chamberlain Manufacturing Corp. site.

While the tanker cars are not believed to contain hazardous materials, city officials must now decide what to do with them and who is footing the removal bill.

"We knew they were there, and we had been expecting to find them," said Chris Western, of the city's planning department. "We had been told they were on the site and that they'd been cleaned up and filled with sand."

Western said the city has a bid to remove the tanks for about $2,000. He expects to ask Chamberlain Manufacturing, now a division of Duchossois Industries Inc., of Elmhurst, Ill., to pay for the removal and for some soil testing around the tanks.

The former defense contractor operated at the 22-acre site at East Fourth and Esther streets from 1919 until 1994.

The city of Waterloo acquired the property in 2005 and began working with the Environmental Protection Agency, using federal grants to tear down the buildings and test for contaminants. Vieth Construction Corp. of Cedar Falls is in the process of removing the remaining concrete and asphalt slabs, footings and structures under a $468,000 contract.

Duchossois Industries, the city and the EPA continue to work on remediation efforts for soil and groundwater contamination discovered on and around the Chamberlain site.

It was not clear exactly what was kept previously in the newly found railcars. Similar cars discovered during a cleanup at the former Construction Machinery Co. site on Glenwood Street were found to contain solvents and other hazardous chemicals.

Western said it's possible the city could leave the cars where they are now.

"If they are truly clean like they are supposed to be, it doesn't hurt to leave them," he said.

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