Casey Calls on Army Corps to Expedite Cleanup of Frankford Arsenal

Arsenal Has Been Closed Since 1977 But 45 Years Later Site Awaits Remediation

Lack Of Progress on Site Has Stalled Development- Shutting Out Potential for Job Creation

Philadelphia PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the U.S. Army Corps to expedite the cleanup of Frankford Arsenal. Standing with workers and stakeholders Casey noted that the Arsenal has been closed for 45 years without a full remediation and made the case that the lack of progress is holding back the potential for economic development and job creation on the site.

Senator Casey was joined in his letter by U.S. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-PA).

“The Frankford Arsenal site has the potential to create jobs and grow the region’s economy, and that’s why it’s imperative the Army Corps expedite this cleanup project,” Casey said. “While the Army Corps has made some progress on the Frankford Arsenal site, it hasn’t been enough. 45 years is way too long to have a site that can create jobs stay idle.”

“It is critical that the Frankford Arsenal site be remediated as soon as possible.  We need to expedite the cleanup and remediation of this site and keep this important neighborhood development project moving forward,” Schwartz said. “The development of this site is a chance to reconnect our neighborhoods with the riverfront and has the potential to create economic growth for the region.”

The Department of the Army closed the Frankford Arsenal in 1977 after 161 years of use.  Prior to its closure as a military facility, the primary mission of Frankford Arsenal involved storage, repair, manufacturing and testing of military ordnance materials, including artillery and small arms ammunition.  Unfortunately, pollution resulting from these activities has prevented the site from being returned to beneficial use for over thirty years. Now, the Corps’ plans to fully characterize and delineate the sources of contamination in order to evaluate the liability of the costs associated with remediation.  This further delays the efforts to redevelop this land. 

The full text of the letter to the U.S. Army Corps is below:

Colonel J. Richard Jordan, III

Commander

US Army Engineer District, Baltimore
City Crescent Building
10 South Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Dear Colonel Jordan:

We write to ask you to expedite the remediation of the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia. 

As you know, the Department of the Army closed the Frankford Arsenal in 1977 after 161 years of use.  Prior to its closure as a military facility, the primary mission of Frankford Arsenal involved storage, repair, manufacturing and testing of military ordnance materials, including artillery and small arms ammunition.  Unfortunately, pollution resulting from these activities has prevented the site from being returned to beneficial use for over thirty years.

Since the Arsenal’s closure, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been engaged in environmental investigation and cleanup activities, including remediation of soil contamination, explosive residues and heavy metal waste.  In addition, the Arsenal is included in the Department of Defense’s Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) program.  Unfortunately, due to insufficient FUDS funding, significant pollution on the site still remains. 

In Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009, Congress allocated $3.2 million to assess and remediate this pollution at the Arsenal.  We have been informed that the Corps used this funding, as well as other discretionary resources, to prioritize the remediation of the Arsenal's northern section.  It our understanding that these cleanup activities have uncovered new areas of pollution which require the Corps’ immediate attention.  Specifically, we are concerned that the oil pockets at the site that have tested positive for PCBs may be detrimental to the health and safety of our constituents and the local environment. 

We are aware that the Corps now plans to fully characterize and delineate the sources of contamination in order to evaluate the liability of the costs associated with remediation.  This further delays the efforts to redevelop this land.  We urge you to expedite this process as quickly as possible so that cleanup can continue.  The conclusion of this evaluation will clarify the Corps’ financial obligations and ultimately help to advance the rehabilitation of this site to productive use that will benefit the local economy. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter.  We stand ready to assist you in efforts to fully remediate the Frankford Arsenal.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.                                                                         Allyson Schwartz

United States Senator                                                                    Member of Congress

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