Land Revitalization Winter '07 Newsletter – From Contaminated Coke Works To Volcano Island
On October 31, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III., along with officials from Omni Associates and Exxon Corporation announced plans to redevelop the former Fairmont Coke Works Superfund Site in Marion Co. The site, which is undergoing cleanup through the use of an innovative Project XL agreement, will be redeveloped into Volcano Island, an $87 million water park and family resort. The resort is expected to attract thousands of tourists, create 500 jobs, and revitalize an ailing economy which has yet to recover from lost local industries.
Volcano Island, which is scheduled to open in 2008, will include a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park, a five-acre outdoor park, and a 30,000 square-foot conference center, the largest in the state.
The tropical theme water park will feature numerous attractions including a water coaster, a surfing attraction, a family raft ride, and a lazy river. It will also offer an interactive play center with small slides and a tipping bucket as well as two hot tubs; one for families, and one indoor/outdoor hot tub for adults.
In addition, a 300-unit, family-oriented suite hotel will be built overlooking the Monongahela River. A 60-slip marina, an RV park and water taxi service are also planned.
Volcano Island is just off of an interstate highway, and is expected to draw conventions and families from around the country. Washington D.C., Baltimore, Pittsburgh and most of West Virginia are within a three-hour drive from Fairmont. The project will be managed by American Resort Management LLC, of Erie, Pennsylvania.
The resort is being built on a site, that at different times over the last century housed the now defunct Fairmont Coke Works, Standard Oil Co.'s domestic coke plant and a Sharon steel coke plant, used for manufacturing, refining, treating and disposing of coke and coke byproduct wastes.
Sharon Steel closed the plant in 1979 and filed for bankruptcy. In 1996, EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priorities List for cleanup. EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection are working closely with Exxon Mobil Corporation (successor to Standard Oil) to clean up the site.
In May of 1999 EPA, WVDEP, Exxon and the Fairmont Community Liaison Panel entered into an innovative agreement under EPA's Project XL that streamlined the traditional superfund process in order to enhance prospects for revitalization. As the agreement was being negotiated, Exxon cleared the site by having the large smoke stacks, coke ovens, process buildings and other structures demolished.
Exxon is in the process of excavating the landfills on the site and processing the coke and coke byproduct waste into fuel that is being used by a nearby power plant. While removing and reusing landfill wastes is more expensive at the outset, the process produces superior results to capping the waste and leaving it on site. Key benefits to the recycling program include;
- Eliminating the need to maintain a cap.
- Allowing more property to be available for unrestricted use.
- Reducing the risk of groundwater pollution.
- Removing wastes from property was compatible with the community=s desired future redevelopment.
Volcano Island Resort is just the first phase of an ambitious master plan for the 107-acre property. The resort and convention center described above will be constructed on a 28-acre parcel currently ready for reuse.
Though the demolition of the on-site structures and excavation of most of the land filled wastes have been accomplished, a good deal of cleanup work is still needed before developers can roll out subsequent phases in the master plan.