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OxyChem Down, Firestone Next

Firestone's former offices, coming down in 2009.

Firestone's former offices, coming down in 2009.

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – The company responsible for cleaning up pollutants and demolishing buildings on the former Occidental Chemical manufacturing site at the south end of Armand Hammer Boulevard has told the township Board of Commissioners that it is making progress on both.

Glenn Springs Holdings Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum that is managing its property restoration projects, reported in a recent letter to commissioners that it “fully completed … demolition of the Chemical Plant complex” down to its concrete slabs by the end of October (2008). It also has made “major progress” in leveling the former Firestone Tire Plant on the same site, the firm said.

Removal of polluted soils from Occidental’s adjacent chemical lagoons was completed in September (2008), Glenn Springs Holdings representative David Madiera added in his Oct. 28 (2008) letter. That area has already been re-graded, seeded with grasses, and is now being monitored by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to the letter.

Occidental is the latest owner of the 257-acre industrial property that since the 1940s has been home to the Jacobs Aircraft Engine Company, Firestone, and Hooker Chemicals and Plastics. Much of the hazardous waste buried there resulted from the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride compounds used in a variety of plastics. A portion of the land was declared a federal Superfund property, which Occidental agreed to clean under EPA supervision.

Glenn Springs hopes to gain permits to begin removing OxyChem’s slabs early next year, Madiera wrote, allowing it to create “a clear and open space ready for re-development.” Almost all of the Firestone plant’s structural steel has been removed as well, Madiera said, and waste abatement work there is finished too. Clearing the remainder, and the nearby office building formerly occupied by Firestone administrators, “will continue into next year,” he wrote.

An approved contractor must first remove and dispose of asbestos, fluorescent and mercury vapor lights, and their ballasts, from the Firestone offices before that building can come down.

No developer or building project for the restored brownfield, as a contaminated property is called, has been identified. The vacant property, and a remaining warehouse building that has several tenants, is being marketed for lease by the CB Richard Ellis commercial real estate firm as the Tri-County Commerce Park.

Madiera’s letter was presented to commissioners during their Nov. 10, 2008, board meeting. Board President Bruce Foltz said he had toured, and was pleased by, Glenn Springs’ remediation efforts. Fellow Commissioner Anthony Doyle said he planned to schedule a similar tour in coming weeks.

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