PHOENIX — In 1999, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality declared this 10-acre lot near downtown, formerly an automobile salvage yard, a state superfund site.
Today, after years spent removing soil contaminated by shredded metal, broken glass and torn hoses, the work is done, making this the first of 36 state superfund sites to be removed from the list.
Soon, a new company will occupy the former East Washington Fluff site.
Andre Chiaradia, manager of ADEQ’s Remedial Projects Unit, said completing the work represents a milestone for the agency.
“I’m a resident of Phoenix, so I want to see people employed and I want to see the growth of the city,” he said. “Not not seeing an empty lot in the future is something that would benefit me as a citizen as well as my position in the state agency.”
The original owners, National Metals Co., declared bankruptcy and abandoned the site in 1986, leaving behind thousands of tons of rubble that over time contaminated the soil.
The site, at East Buckeye Road and South Fifth Street, was added to the Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund registry after ADEQ determined it was contaminated with levels of lead and other chemicals that exceeded the health standards of the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The fluff sites are really a byproduct of our automobile age,” Chiaradia said. “In turning the automobiles back into something useful and removing the scrap metal, the process of breaking apart the cars generates this portion of waste that essentially has hazardous components in it.”
No groundwater contamination was found at the site, but over 6,000 tons of hazardous and solid waste material had to be removed from the ground in 2001, costing the agency about $3 million. A protective soil cap was added to prevent the contamination from spreading any further.
At a public auction in 2006, Jim Harrison bought the property, but a soil sampling two years later under a concrete slab he removed showed low levels of lead contamination. Harrison said he is relieved the cleanup efforts have finally paid off.
“Patience is a virtue, but this is one of the gems of Phoenix,” he said. “To have this big of a site right in the inner city and the opportunity to redevelop it is something you don’t get every day.”
After another 235 tons of soil was removed, recycled concrete was crushed and put in place as an additional layer over the original soil cap.
Now that the site is no longer a state superfund site, Harrison said the property’s size and location have already interested a prospective buyer. A confidentiality agreement prevented Harrison from giving the name, but he said it is a large company that already has operations in the area.
Chiaradia said the achievement is a victory for Phoenix as well.
“Where we have an opportunity to give the owner the mechanisms to turn the property over to be productive, it really fulfills all the goals that we have,” he said.
There are still 35 sites remaining on the state superfund list, but Tina LePage, manager of the Waste Programs Division’s Remedial Projects Section at ADEQ, said the East Washington Fluff site has provided a framework for completing work at other sites. A few other sites are nearing completion, she added.
“We understand that it’s a long process and that it took many years to get to the goal, but we did achieve the goal,” she said. “It’s a learning process, but it’s one that we’ll use now for the other sites and the new ones to come to finish this process faster.”
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl