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EPA Announces Excellence in Site Reuse Awards at the Avtex Fibers Site, Front Royal, Virginia

Release Date: 09/22/2014
Contact Information: David Sternberg 215-814-5548, sternberg.david@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (September 22, 2014) – EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin announced today that FMC Corporation, the Economic Development Authority and Warren County have been recognized with EPA’s Excellence in Site Reuse Awards for their involvement in the redevelopment of the Avtex Fibers Site in Front Royal, Va.

Avtex Fibers, located in Warren County, Va., is a 440-acre former manufacturing plant that produced rayon and other synthetics from 1940 to 1989. Tons of rayon manufacturing wastes and by-products were disposed on site in 23 impoundments encompassing 240 acres. Waste disposal practices at the plant contaminated the groundwater under the site and in residential wells across the South Fork Shenandoah River.

“FMC, the Economic Development Authority and Warren County have worked tirelessly to transform one of the most contaminated sites in Virginia into an area that future generations can enjoy. They are to be congratulated for their perseverance, determination and vision,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.

FMC, a former site owner, received the Excellence in Site Reuse award for its effort to successfully convert 240 acres of waste basins into a valuable community resource. There has been a return of native vegetation, wildflowers, butterflies and birds including the prairie warbler and the great blue heron.

The Economic Development Authority (EDA), which now owns the entire property, received the award for its ability to envision the site’s development potential. In 2001 the EDA renovated and restored a 14,000-square foot dilapidated building which now houses the EDA offices as well a growing list of companies.

In addition, EDA worked with the EPA, FMC and the community to develop a comprehensive plan for the site which includes a business park, a recreational area and a nature conservancy. This past summer, EDA transferred five acres to the town of Front Royal for the construction of a police station.

Warren County is being recognized for its work in bringing multiple parties together to construct the 32-acre Skyline Soccerplex. The county worked diligently with the U.S. soccer Foundation, the EPA and FMC to provide the children of the community not only soccer fields but also a world class skateboard park.

The amount of cleanup and remediation at the site was staggering. Initially, there was asbestos abatement and the demolition of more than 25 acres of buildings. Then came the removal of drums and tanks, thousands of tons of contaminated soil, plus debris excavation and removal, including the off-site disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous materials.

After the buildings were removed, more than 11 miles of sewers were excavated. These sewers measured up to six feet in diameter with 206 manholes, some as deep as 30 feet. Eighty-two acres of basins were capped and 17 acres of wetlands were established using more than 6,200 pounds of native Virginia warm season grass seed and 5,400 grass plugs.

For more information about Avtex, go to: http://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/npl/VAD070358684.htm#background.