Follansbee steel site requires decontamination

FOLLANSBEE, W.Va. — After the recent acquisition of the Follansbee steel site, the Business Development Corporation is working on decontaminating the land to make it available for business.The BDC acquired this site a few weeks ago. Through their initial testing, they knew they'd have some decontaminating to do, as they usually do with properties they acquire.But now, they know the extent. They were able to jump in a grant funding cycle to get things cleaned up.“I have seen us high and I have seen us on down side, but hopefully we’re on the way back up again,” said Mark Lewis, a longtime resident of Follansbee.Lewis has seen Follansbee through many years of ups and downs. He says this most recent acquisition to repurpose the former Follansbee steel mill site is hope for more ups.“I think this is a sign things are coming back up and we need it,” he said.The BDC has already seen interest in the site from a variety of industry types.“The types of businesses we’re seeing interest in are actually handling,fabricating, processing or making something in the value added metals or transportation, logistics areas,” said Pat Ford, BDC executive director.“I’d like to see jobs, good paying jobs for good people and we have a lot of good skilled people in the area,” Lewis said.Before they can move in to bring those jobs here to Follansbee, they have some cleaning up to do. Ford says it's not that bad, but it will take some time and they're acting quickly.“Here there was some analysis done prior to acquisition that told us we would have to clean that up. We just didn't understand quite the necessity or immediacy of which we had to do it,” Ford said.Ford adds they're going through the process to quantify the level of contamination in the soils. They've identified hot spots on both sides.He says the team was quick enough to get into the funding cycle for two cleanup grants to move forward with repurposing the land.“The good news about cleaning quicker is we can get business in here quicker and that's the goal,” Ford said.There's still a long process ahead that could span 12-15 months. It will be around spring of 2017 when the tests are completed.They will hear about the grants, which are from the U.S. EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and if they acquire those grants, that will happen in October.