EPA to remove chemicals from abandoned Slinger factory

CREATED Sep 12, 2012 - UPDATED: Sep 12, 2012

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SLINGER- The Environmental Protection Agency plans to remove dozens of barrels filled with dangerous chemicals from a vacant industrial building.  The building is in central Slinger, not far from several schools
 
Neighbors on Oak Street were stunned and scared when they found out what was left in the small, abandoned factory.
 
"I live here.  This is my home," said Connie Nurkala, who has lived on the block for more than a decade.  "I have children that live here.  I have pets that live here and I am concerned about it."
 
"Angry.  It's like, how can someone be so foolish to leave hazardous chemicals in a vacant building," said Tamra Saegert-Lemke.  Her mother lives near the factory.
 
Contractors counted more than 70 commercial-sized barrels of dangerous metal coating substances.  Drums are stacked on shelves.  Hazardous, toxic chemicals are stored in room after room.  The unassuming Niphos Coatings business has been closed since 2010.
 
Owner Thomas Harju met with authorities Wednesday afternoon.
 
"I've been cooperating with everybody," Harju said.
 
Harju said he has maintained the building, even though he can no longer afford to run the shop.  He said the business fell on hard times, invoices went unpaid and he was forced to layoff his small staff.
 
The EPA said removal will begin after an inventory and testing are complete.

"We deemed that an emergency response effort was necessary," the EPA's Jaime Brown told TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.  "Luckily someone found it before someone else got into it and got hurt."
 
A building inspector found the chemicals.  The owner signed an agreement allowing authorities to remove the substances.