Johns Manville project cleanup plans discussed

By JEFFREY SAULTON

jsaulton@newsandsentinel.com

VIENNA — Representatives involved in the cleanup of the Johns Manville project spoke with the public in a meeting in the Vienna Public Library Monday.

Mayor Randy Rapp said the reason for the meeting at the Vienna Public Library was because it is the official repository for the city. He said all official documents, announcements and notices are on file there. He said the final documentation on the Johns Manville project will be there as well for anyone to look over.

Speaking were Patrick Kirby, director of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center; Derek Hancock, project manager, Office of Environmental Remediation, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and Thomas M. Rebar, manager of EHS Services with Compliance Management International who will be the project’s licensed remediation specialist.

Kirby said property like the Johns Manville site is considered a Brownfields since it is one with real or perceived contamination that would make it unsuitable for redevelopment. He said the grant to clean up the site is a nationally-competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.

“It was awarded last June, but the work may not be until later,” he said. “There was paperwork on file that said we wanted to start work before Oct. 1 because we’ve committed so much and we got that approved by the EPA and the project has been going on since then.”

Kirby said the grant is for $200,000 with a $40,000 in kind local match, meaning it can be in services rather than cash. He added it is over a three-year period.

Kirby said the program must go through a process, the Voluntary Remediation Program, before it can be said the area is cleaned.

Hancock said in his office they take properties with no value due to contamination and make them valuable again.

“My role is to oversee the processes established by the State of West Virginia are followed,” he said. “There is a certain process that goes into play and once you start that process you have to stay with it.”

Hancock said one reason the Johns Manville project has taken so long is a previous owner committed to a project and stopped. Hancock said the DEP has failed the citizens in Vienna due to a lot of turnover in the Office of Environmental Remediation and the project was on hold.

When he learned he would be the project manager Hancock took the time to look back and see what had been done and what had not been done.

“The mayor and a lot of his staff have been very involved in making sure we were not only on time but we were on schedule and the costs were minimized the best as possible,” he said.

Hancock said the site is two parcels, one was the production side where the actual plant was located and the river parcel. He said he recently approved a sampling analysis work plan for the production side and from there they will turn to samples of soils and groundwater.

Hancock said that work is done on the river side and they are moving on to a risk assessment to make sure if there are any concerns they will be resolved under the remediation plan.

Councilman Jim Leach said the site was not handled properly and that was why the production side had a large co-mingled debris pile.

Leach said the city did the right thing in buying the property and work to remediate the site. Leach said part of the city’s action was to change engineering firms.

Leach said the status is the site assessment plan is approved for the production side.

“That triggers deadlines with the DEP for us to start performance,” he said. “Rebar has provided the city a plan we will discuss at the next council meeting.”

Leach said the goal is to get the river side to a certificate of completion and they are at the point where the remediation site on the parcel is done and submit final approval for remediation and that site will be done and closed.

Leach said one encouraging thing is the plant site has been capped with a concrete slab for decades which has protected the soil and water on the site. Rapp said bid packets for the removal of the final walls by an asbestos remediation company will go out. He said the sheeting on what is left will be evaluated for asbestos, it will be taken to a disposal site and the remaining steel beams and girders will be removed and recycled.

Hancock was asked about a time line for the project on the production side.

“The second week of March will be the start date for sampling,” he said. “Depending on what we find and if the groundwater looks good hopefully we’ll have results coming in by April and we’ll be done with samples by the second quarter.”

Hancock said it is impossible to say when everything will be done.

Leach said the city spent $900,000 to purchase the site, the first year of the budget was $588,000 and the next was $388,000. He said there is $200,000 budgeted this year plus the grant of $200,000.

“From there the goal is to get it to where it is a clean concrete pad and make it available for development, so we are roughly at $2.2 million to $2.5 million,” Leach said. “For property in the middle of Vienna that’s not too shabby.”

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