Car Works nearly clean

Jeremy Nash
Remediation of the contaminant-riddled soil in the old Lenoir Car Works site is inching closer to finalization, capping a nearly two-year cleanup process that could open the property for future commercial or industrial use.

Rehabilitation of the nearly 100 acres owned by Southern Regional Industrial Realty Inc., a subsidiary of Norfolk Southern, is about 95 percent complete, Kelly Brockman, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation communications director, said.

“I know there’s some cleanup they’re doing on the southern portion of the site, but after that I think it’s just they’ll do the final grading and cover everything,” Brockman said.

About 25 acres remain to be cleared, 19 of which are “mostly remediated with the final stringers of slag and foundry sand being removed,” Russell McDaniel, Norfolk Southern environmental engineering director, said.

Cleanup began in July 2012 after lead and arsenic were found in the soil. Minor volumes of petroleum-contaminated sand and soil were also discovered during excavation.

“The eastern parcel off C Street, about 11 acres, was remediated last year, and the work this year began on the west side near the recycling center and proceeded eastward,” McDaniel said in an email. “The waste material is remaining on site in containment cells that occupy about 20 acres and separate the eastern and western parcels. The cells are capped with two feet of clay and soil as approved by the state and similar to a municipal landfill cap.”

Despite the project being “a few months behind schedule” due to the weather, work with heavy equipment plans to be finished by the end of July, McDaniel said.

“The only source of delay has been the relatively wet winter and spring that has affected the entire Southeast over the past several months,” McDaniel said. “It’s been difficult for the heavy equipment to move the slag and foundry sand in the clay-rich soils of Lenoir City when they have been wet. The soils typically take a few days to dry so the heavy equipment can resume work.”

Lenoir City Utilities Board abandoned the 12-inch water line that restricted cleanup on the Lenoir Car Works property and has since constructed a line underneath C Street. Construction cost about $300,000, with about half of the funds coming from an Appalachian Regional Commission grant of $144,000.

Herbert Sarten, LCUB Water, Sewer and Gas manager, said the water line tie-in started Jan. 16 and ended April 16. Hopes were for construction to last 120 days, but weather and permits lingered the project’s completion for about another 30 days, he said.

“It’s been tied back into 1st Avenue, so we’re feeding that way — C Street, 1st Avenue, G Street to the tank,” Sarten said. “So that line has been abandoned. We still have water on the project on one end, but it’s not anything — in fact, it’s where they wanted it so they could use it to keep everything wet down.”

Lenoir City Administrator Jim Wilburn said Norfolk Southern still looks to use the remediated property for a rail-based service.

Once field work is completed, McDaniel said the next step will be surveying remediated parcels so that available areas for redevelopment will have “legal descriptions in the deeds.” Surveying will be submitted to TDEC for review and approval, he said.

“The goal of the project is to return the property to productive use in the community and the economy,” McDaniel said. “NS would like to have rail-served customer or customers on the parcels, and would like to see Lenoir City benefit from jobs and tax revenue. At this time, NS has not settled on a single redevelopment scenario.”