Nebraska engineering group honors Magnus, LLC for Environmental Clean Up Efforts

FREMONT – Magnus LLC, the world’s leading manufacturer of locomotive motor bearings, has won an award of excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies in Nebraska for completing its voluntary environmental cleanup initiative.

Magnus, a division of A. Stucki Company, was honored for complying with requirements of the Voluntary Cleanup Program, administered by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality. The department determined Magnus had successfully completed a four-year effort to monitor and remediate soils at the 10-acre plant site in Fremont.

Magnus President John Macklin accepted the award Thursday, Feb. 21 in Omaha at the annual dinner of the ACEC-Nebraska, which represents more than 50 consulting engineering firms in the state.

Participation in the Voluntary Cleanup Program was consistent with the company’s long commitment to the health of its employees, neighbors, and the environment, Macklin said.

“We strive to be good stewards of the industry, business, and the community,” he said.  “I want to leave our Magnus manufacturing process better than when I began.”

Macklin said he wished to revitalize the grounds of the facility, leaving the land in better shape than when he started with Magnus nearly four decades ago.  “It gives us peace of mind that this property adheres to environmental standards,” he added.

Since the early 1960s, the company and its predecessor have manufactured bearings and other parts at the bronze foundry in Fremont. Lead is among the metals used in the manufacturing process.

Magnus engaged Olsson, an engineering consulting firm with specialized expertise in environmental projects, to help meet the program requirements. Olsson conducted soil and water monitoring within the boundaries of the foundry property and soil sampling on commercial, public, and residential properties surrounding the plant site. Testing on private property was conducted with landowner consent.

All but one soil sample collected from off-site locations registered below EPA standards for adverse health risks. The one single sample that tested above the health advisory was linked to lead-based paint from a residence, not the foundry process.

Groundwater testing on the plant site revealed no issues, but elevated levels of certain metals were detected in some soil locations on the Magnus property. To meet remediation requirements, excavation and regrading was completed and a bright orange membrane was installed over the affected soils. A foot of clean soil was then placed over the membrane, followed by turf sod.

In addition, a restrictive covenant was drawn up that permits the property to be continuously used only for industrial or commercial purposes and creates measures to maintain the clean soil cap and other environmental requirements.

“John’s goal to leave the property more attractive and environmentally sound than when he started at Magnus has been achieved,” said Karen Griffin, groundwater technical leader at Olsson who led the firm’s work on the project.

The state cleanup program partners with property owners to redevelop brownfield sites using a streamlined, results-based approach. Property owners allowed to participate in the program can save time and money compared to going through a more complex federal cleanup process.

Macklin said although the process required an investment of time and resources by Magnus, he was pleased with the results and would recommend other affected property owners strongly consider participating in the Voluntary Cleanup Program.

“To have the peace of mind that Magnus has established a legacy of environmental protection and good citizenship is really valuable,” he said. “It makes the long process well worth it.”