Cleanup at former Avtex plant area completed

The Warren Sentinel
FRONT ROYAL — The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority is just a few steps away from being able to market part of the former Avtex Fibers plant site.

The EDA recently announced that chemical manufacturer FMC Corporation has completed cleanup efforts of 160 acres at the Avtex Fibers Superfund site. The 440-acre property was once home to a flagship rayon plant that shut down in 1989 after bankruptcy struck with a series of environmental and safety violations.

“It feels really good to finally be able to say that the cleanup is complete on the industrial side because it has been a long time,” EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald said.

Remediation work has included decontamination and demolition of buildings, sewer plugging and removal, basin closures, landfill improvement, wastewater treatment plant operations and treating soil and groundwater.

The next step for FMC includes a final report for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review by the end of this year. If the cleanup efforts meet EPA’s standards, the agency will issue a “letter of no further interest,” releasing the site to the EDA for redevelopment. McDonald said she hopes the process will wrap up by the middle of next year.

The EDA has been working to revise the property’s restrictive covenants. The guidelines limit what the land can be used for. The document is currently being reviewed by the EPA, which will send suggestions to the Department of Justice for final review and approval.

FMC will continue cleanup efforts and remediation in other parts of the superfund site, including a conservancy area that McDonald hopes to have released within three years.

“We were hoping to have hiking and biking trails there because it’s right by the river,” she said. “We were hoping to have a birding trail also, but currently according to our covenants, that’s not allowed, so we’re trying to get that changed as well. We would love to see that as a recreational area.”

McDonald said she hopes the new covenants will open the property up to new opportunities and uses. The covenants may be finalized by the time the site is released next year, she said.

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