By Gordon Hopkins
Fairbury Mayor Spencer Brown told FJN he believes it is still possible that the city will be paid for the equipment removed from the now-shuttered municipal power plant.
Last year, the City of Fairbury contracted with a California-based company, Industrial Engineering Solutions (IES), to purchase turbines, generators and other large machines from the power plant for $120,000. To date only a $12,000 down payment has been received.
As of press time, the city has had no response from IES for payment requests. The city has been unable to locate the company’s owner, James Daniels.
When asked if he thought there was still a chance IES would pay the debt, Mayor Brown told FJN, “If they were wise they would pay.”
As previously reported by FJN and despite occurring more than seven months ago, no lawsuit has been filed and neither James Daniels nor IES have been reported to any law enforcement agency by the city.
Mayor Brown said the situation has not been referred to authorities because, again, he still believed IES could pay the debt, “You could say that’s part of it. I was hoping to get in contact with them. Let them know this isn’t going away and they need to pay and clean up the mess…that’s the best case scenario.”
There is more than just the unpaid $108,000 at issue. The contract also required the draining and decommissioning of a large oil tank. IES left town before the job was completed.
“They will need to fulfill their contract in full,” said Brown. “That also means a reimbursement of any and all costs we have experienced that they should be covering.”
The city paid $6,000 to Midwest Torching and Maintenance LLC to complete the demolition of the oil tank. In addition, the city is still in possession of some of the used oil, currently stored in drums inside the power plant’s building shop, in a parking stall on concrete, to minimize the risk of oil leaking into the environment and to keep them out of the elements. Mayor Brown reported that the cost of removal and disposal of the oil is expected to be in excess of $10,000.
Then there is the matter of asbestos. Although not in the contract, Daniels did agree by email to remediate the asbestos in the building.
An asbestos inspection of the power plant was completed in February of this year. The report indicates 23 samples of asbestos were taken. All but one were found to be friable, meaning brittle and crumbly. Inhaling asbestos fibers can cause serious lung diseases, including cancer, according to health officials.
Mayor Brown put the blame for the current condition of the asbestos squarely on IES, calling it, “demo debris,” which is why he said he ordered the asbestos inspection.
City Council President Kelly Davis told FJN, “I did tell the mayor that no matter what, we need to getting moving with a professional, reputable company to abate the asbestos and get things cleaned up down there.”
It is unknown how much asbestos remediation will cost. The city is looking for a grant from the EPA to cover the expense.
Mayor Brown said he is prepared to take legal steps, including criminal charges, if IES does not clear the debt. FJN asked Brown, should IES make good on the debt, would he still consider reporting the company to law enforcement?
Brown responded, “If they show up and fulfill their obligations, what crime would they be charged with?”
By Gordon Hopkins