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Plant's buildings to be razed

November 19, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Officials on Thursday night detailed plans to tear down the remaining buildings that housed pesticides and other harmful chemicals at the closed Central Chemical plant on Mitchell Avenue, which is a federally designated Superfund environmental cleanup site.

A group of community representatives as well as officials monitoring the efforts met Thursday at Haven Lutheran Church to discuss the ongoing cleanup.

Experts who will supervise the demolition work said at the meeting that the 14 remaining buildings are vacant, but previous tenants who rented the property after Central Chemical closed the plant left equipment, trash and scrap metal inside many of the buildings.

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The buildings themselves also have asbestos and dust that may contain some of the harmful chemicals, the experts said.

The demolition experts will spend much of their work controlling the dust and removing the asbestos so it doesn't blow into a nearby residential neighborhood, which also holds businesses and schools.

Alan Eudy and Ty Parish work for the private, North Carolina-based demolition company Containment Control Inc. The two will supervise the demolition work and spoke at Thursday's meeting.

"The days of the crane and the wrecking ball are over," Parish said as he described the more exact demolition process to be used at Central Chemical.

Eudy said the work could begin as early as January, and would take approximately four months. Most of the work would be done over two months.

First, workers will clear out debris and old equipment inside the buildings. Then they'll remove asbestos from the aging plant buildings while using sprayed water to cut down on dust, Eudy and Parish said.

Workers also will spray down the insides of the buildings to remove dust and then take the buildings apart piece by piece, separating metal, wood and other materials, Eudy and Parish said.

Some of the debris will be recycled, but most will be hauled by truck to landfills or incinerators licensed to take hazardous materials, Eudy said.

Eudy said there will be electronic air monitors that will check dust and vapor levels. Those monitors could be worn by workers and also will be placed inside the buildings. More monitors will placed around the site.

If the monitored air levels reach a certain point, work will stop, Eudy said. Those specific levels haven't been determined.

The demolition and a site study also taking place are being supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are being paid for by a number of companies, including Central Chemical, that are responsible for the cleanup. The site was placed on the EPA's Superfund list in 1997.

Some of the identified contaminants are DDT, arsenic, lead, mercury and benzene.

Officials ask that anyone with questions call the Central Chemical community information line at 800-242-9317.

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