Laurel Center II Brownfields Redevelopment
As early as the 1860’s, the Reading Industries site was the home of heavy industrial activities. Starting with iron pipe manufacturing, and later converting to copper and brass tube manufacturing, the site once contained the largest iron pipe manufacturing operation in the United States. In addition to the pipe and tube manufacturing processes, the site contained three manufactured gas plants, an iron foundry, and a chrome-plating operation.
As a result of the the long history of petroleum and hazardous substance handling at the site, a total of 31 areas of concern were identified during the first phase of investigations performed by Liberty. Site characterization and remediation activities were coordinated with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and agency reviews were expedited as a result of the site’s acceptance into the state’s Brownfield Action Team program. Following thorough investigation of soil, groundwater and waste materials at the site, three areas were targeted for remediation, including remediation of soil impacted by PCBs and heavy metals, the removal of petroleum storage tanks, and removal of hazardous waste from the former chrome-plating operation. Groundwater impacts at the site were addressed through a detailed analysis of contaminant fate-and-transport using both groundwater and surface water computer models (Bioscreen, Biochlor, SWLOAD and PENTOXSD). These modeling efforts demonstrated the elimination of the groundwater and surface water exposure pathways, avoiding the need for costly groundwater remediation.
Liberty submitted the final report for the site in April of 2005, and an Act 2 Release of Liability was granted by PADEP in the following month. Evergreen Community Power, Inc. has since constructed a biofuels power generation facility on part of the site, and the remainder of the site is planned for additional industrial development. Through the assistance of the Governor’s Action Team and funding from Pennsylvania’s Industrial Sites Reuse Program, this inner-city brownfield will continue its long history as an active industrial site well into the next century.