By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Cleanup has begun, in earnest, at the Universal Steel property on Bridge Street.
The Environmental Protection Agency is working to remove soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, so the property can be redeveloped. The project is expected to take three months.
The building on the 1.2-acre, city-owned site was demolished last month to make way for a 120-space municipal parking lot. The former Universal Steel and Trading Co. had been vacant for more than a decade.
Soil will be mounded into piles, tarped with plastic covers and eventually trucked off-site to a hazardous waste facility. Excavation workers will wear protective suits and masks.
PCBs have been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system, according to the EPA website.
Universal Steel ran a scrap metal and recycling plant that, among other items, handled fuel storage tanks and transformers.