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Company says S.C. site cleanup is under way

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Demolition of FMC Corp.'s hydrogen peroxide plant in Spring Hill is progressing, and the company continues to prepare 10 acres for sale at the site of its former East Plant, said Jim Bodamer, FMC's environmental remediation manager.

Bodamer gave an update on the South Charleston projects Monday evening during a meeting of the South Charleston Area Community Advisory Panel in the Dow Auditorium of the city's public library.

The hydrogen peroxide plant was mothballed in 2003. It sits next to the South Charleston Industrial Park, also known as the Ordnance Center. FMC's fly-ash pond is nearby.

The properties total about 80 acres. Both the plant and the pond have been re-classified as voluntary cleanup sites under the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's so-called brownfields program, Bodamer said. The program's goal is to redevelop former industrial sites for productive industrial or commercial use.

Demolition of the hydrogen peroxide plant began in August with some buildings.

"We're working our way towards the process area," where hydrogen peroxide was made, Bodamer said. "We are making good progress. The demolition contractor is pulling out everything that can be recycled."

Mayer Pollock Steel Corp. of Pottstown, Pa., is doing the demolition, Bodamer said following the meeting.

Once the contractor gets to the process area, "they'll start extracting equipment," he told the advisory panel. "They will re-sell a lot of that equipment. Hopefully, it will be put on trucks and shipped to customers. Otherwise, they'll stage it until they have a customer.

 "Next May, it should be done, down to grade," he said.

"In 2013, we will work up a remediation plan to submit to the Department of Environmental Protection," he said. "We hope to get into the actual remediation of the plant in 2014. That should take about half a year. Then it will be ready for sale."

The site includes a firewater pond that once served the plant and the ordinance center.

"It will be sold with the plant," Bodamer said. "We'll probably sell the firewater pond as is.

"We'll take out the foundation under the process area because that's where most of the contamination is," he said. "We'll just leave the roads."

Bodamer recalled that THF Realty had planned to buy the fly-ash pond for a retail development, but the project fell through in 2008 when the national economy went into recession.

The East Plant site entered the state's voluntary cleanup program in 1995. Several parcels already have been redeveloped, including lots that are occupied by White Dodge-Kia, Rite Aid, Advance Auto Parts and Joey Holland's Service Department. A site behind Advance Auto Parts has been sold to a company controlled by Doug Skaff Sr. but has not yet been redeveloped.

In 2008, FMC demolished the steam plant that stood on the eastern edge of the site. The vacant land still owned by FMC totals about 10 acres. It is shaped like a shoebox and is next to the Kanawha River.

Bodamer said one portion of the vacant land "is pretty much ready to be redeveloped." Concrete foundations have been removed, contaminated soil has been removed and the property has been leveled.

Another portion, known as "Area 3," is the last in the cleanup program. Tests show that the groundwater under the surface is contaminated with high levels of carbon tetrachloride.

Bodamer said the company plans to eliminate the contamination by building what he described as "a picket fence of wells," a "bio-curtain," next to the river. A nutrient that is similar to vegetable oil and bacteria that eat carbon tetrachloride will be injected into the wells.

"As the carbon tetrachloride moves toward the river, it will move to the curtain," he said. "The bacteria will eat the carbon tetrachloride. The nutrients will help the bacteria."

The goal is for the site groundwater to meet the water quality standard for carbon tetrachloride in the river. "So it is primarily protecting the biological community in the river," he said.

"If you can clean up a site with these in situ (on site) products, it's the way to go," Bodamer said. It is less expensive than any alternative, he said. Also, "if we had a buyer today, we could work with that buyer, move around the bio-curtain."

The plan has been tested in a laboratory, Bodamer said. The hope is it will work at Area 3. "The plan is to install the bio-curtain next year. Probably in 2014, we'll decide if it is effective. But we don't have to wait that long to redevelop the site. The two (the bio-curtain and redevelopment) can co-exist. Redevelopment could start tomorrow if we get the right buyer."

The state Department of Environmental Protection "is very much involved in this project," he said. "They are overseeing everything that we do."

In response to a question, Bodamer said the groundwater on the site moves toward the river, never toward town.

Following the meeting, he said there is no chance the on-site treatment would have any impact on neighboring property.

"When the bacteria run out of carbon tetrachloride, they die. So as long as that contaminant is there, they will grow. That's why we add nutrients — to help them grow. But it is really the carbon tetrachloride that they're degrading."

During the meeting, Bodamer was asked what type of buyer FMC hopes to find.

"It has to be industrial or commercial," he said. "We are not building another chemical plant. We would prefer to have one big business in there, but it also could be broken up."

Contact writer George Hohmann at or 304-348-4836.


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