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Contaminated soil removed from Jonesboro shopping center

Large silos have become part of the landscape at a Jonesboro shopping center where crews have been working for months to remove contaminated soil from the former site of a dry cleaners. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

Large silos have become part of the landscape at a Jonesboro shopping center where crews have been working for months to remove contaminated soil from the former site of a dry cleaners. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)

JONESBORO — For months, heavy construction equipment has been set up in the parking lot of the Tara Shopping Center in Jonesboro with little fanfare.

But, what may seem like a construction or renovation project at 8600 Tara Blvd. could be a far more serious threat to the community, city officials have confirmed. The shopping center isn’t being renovated. It’s being purged of an environmental threat left behind by a laundry.

“The soil was contaminated by a laundry that used to be on the end of the shopping center,” said Jonesboro code enforcement Officer Derry Walker. “Some of the cleaning chemicals used at the laundry were apparently dumped into the ground.”

The contamination is in a precarious position because it sits between commercial and residential areas. To its east is Tara Boulevard, which is lined with businesses. Immediately to its left is Fayetteville Road and beyond that are some of the oldest neighborhoods in Jonesboro.

The soil issue has been ongoing for a while but it is not clear exactly how long its been around. Walker said the owners of the shopping center, Tara Retail Holdings LLC and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division were already working to contain the contamination when he was hired by the city a year ago.

City officials do not have a contact phone number for Tara Retail Holdings officials, and one was not available in its listing on the Secretary of State’s website either. Georgia EPD officials could not be reached for comment either.

But, despite the longevity of removal efforts, residents are not believed to be in danger from the contamination at this time, said Walker. He said the contaminated soil has been removed and space filled back in with gravel and concrete. He said he expects work to be completed later this week.

“It doesn’t appear to go off the shopping center site but, as a precaution, ground monitoring wells will be set up across Fayetteville Road from the site to make sure it doesn’t spread,” said Walker.