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DuPont to be sole owner of plant

by Darlene J. Taylor

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- DuPont will buy out the other co-owner of the former Spelter zinc plant and has set a timetable for the voluntary remediation of the 50-acre waste pile located there.

DuPont is buying out T.L. Diamond Co., it was announced by Sathya Yalvagi, a DuPont project manager, at a Monday joint meeting of the county's Planning Commission, the Redevelopment Authority and the Historic Landmark Commission.

DuPont is beginning the second phase of the cleanup that began in 1997 with the removal of tailings from the riverbank, flood plain and nature trail, drainage to prevent erosion from the tailings and installation of a security fence around the entire facility.

"We will take ownership on Oct. 31 and begin by demolishing the buildings. This should be completed by Oct. 20, 2002. We will then begin consolidating the piling that currently covers 112 acres. We hope to reduce it to about 40 acres, cap it and maintain it," said Yalvagi.

The facility no longer produces zinc dust. It will close permanently on Oct. 31. The two million tons of waste at the site contain hazardous arsenic and cadmium, as well as other metals, and ranges from six to 96 feet deep. This was accumulated by several different owners from about 1918 through the 1960s.

David Hight, project manager with the Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Environmental Remediation, said this is the largest voluntary remediation program in the state.

"We are dealing with one source of contamination, minerals like zinc and copper. Capping works well with this. The DEP and DuPont have had a very good relationship so far. We have worked together for two years to this point," said Hight.

Capping involves covering the pile with a synthetic liner to shield hazardous waste and then covering that with dirt and landscaping the area.

The DuPont official estimated this phase will be completed by 2004.

"We can then limit the impact on groundwater. It will be isolated and covered with natural vegetation," said Yalvagi.

Ron Potesta, owner of Potesta & Associates Inc., project technical consultant, said they will maintain the site through a monitoring program.

"We have a long-term commitment to improve the groundwater and the West Fork River for aquatic life," said Potesta.

Yalvagi said after remediation, there will be about 25-30 acres available for light industrial businesses that DuPont could lease to.

"We are looking for possible developments and are willing to work with the Redevelopment Authority on long-term leases," said Yalvagi.

"There will be another 20 acres available for recreation. It could be a possible park or recreation area. We own the bike trail, also," he said.

Jim Smith, commissioner and director of the Historic Landmark Commission, said they would like to work with DuPont on incentives for industrial development.

Landmark Commission and DuPont officials agreed that a decision needs to be made before demolition on a possible monument or plaque to mark the site. The site has been an icon of the community for almost a century and employed a large number of Spanish immigrants and their descendants in its history.

Staff writer Darlene Taylor can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at dtaylor@exponent-telegram.com.