Contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have nearly demolished all the buildings that made up the former U.S. Forgecraft plant next to the Fort Smith National Historic Site.
The metal fitting and safety device manufacturing site opened nearly 90 years ago. Contamination was first reported in 1999, according to Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality records.
In May 2006, the EPA started an emergency cleanup of the site, removing several barrels and containers previously used in metal plating and finishing operations at the abandoned facility.
The demolition was scheduled to happen much earlier, but the EPA found itself overwhelmed by 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita along the Gulf Coast. Instead, the EPA sent its workers to address damage done by the storms, putting the Forgecraft cleanup on hold, said John Rinehart, onsite coordinator from the EPA’s regional office in Dallas.
Building demolition began earlier this month. Rinehart said they hope that work is complete in a matter of days.
Once the building demolition is complete, including destroying the building foundations, the EPA will remove up to two feet of soil at the site to ensure the removal of all potentially contaminated materials, Rinehart said. However, soil removal won’t begin until an archaeological survey of the site is complete.
The Forgecraft property is part of the original Fort Smith, and soldiers at the fort were buried in that area between 1817 and 1823, said Bill Black, superintendent of the historic site.
While documentation exists showing many of those soldiers were transferred to the U.S. National Cemetery in Fort Smith, there are many not accounted for, meaning they could be beneath the Forgecraft site, Black said.
Source: Southwest Times Record.
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