Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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About the Superfund Redevelopment Initiative

This nationally coordinated effort provides EPA and its partners with a process to return Superfund sites to productive use. Learn more at Superfund Redevelopment Initiative.

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Redevelopment at the Site

Once one of Virginia's largest contaminated sites, the Avtex Fibers, Inc. Superfund site is now home to a number of commercial, recreational and ecological assets. EPA, other governmental agencies and community members are working together to clean up and redevelop the site. Located in Front Royal, Virginia, a rayon and other synthetic material manufacturing facility operated on the 440-acre site from 1940 until the company abandoned the property in 1989. Improper waste disposal practices caused contamination of groundwater, nearby water wells and the Shenandoah River. EPA added the site to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1986. The potentially responsible party cleaned up the site. Cleanup actions included demolition of buildings, removal of demolition debris, sewer excavation, landfill/waste basin capping and the removal of contaminated soil. Groundwater and leachate treatment continues. Throughout the cleanup process, the community helped to develop site reuse plans. EPA served in an advisory capacity to site stakeholders, including the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority (EDA), the United States Soccer Foundation and FMC Corporation. The site hosts a 240-acre ecological conservancy park along the Shenandoah River and a 162-acre industrial and commercial development called the Royal Phoenix Business Park. Site stakeholders also worked together to build soccer fields (the Skyline Soccerplex), a skate park and a picnic pavilion with a playground on a 32-acre parcel of the site. The local EDA restored an on-site administrative building for EDA offices and other tenants, including the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Planning Commission. Fully returning the site to reuse requires ongoing collaboration. EPA and the local EDA worked together in 2014 to update land use agreements originally signed in 1999. The new agreements allow for mixed use of site property, which will assist Front Royal in future redevelopment efforts. In September 2014, EPA Region 3 presented FMC Corporation, Warren County and the EDA with “Excellence in Site Reuse” awards for enabling the site’s productive reuse. EPA will continue to support ongoing redevelopment at the site

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Economic Activity at the Site

As of December 2017, EPA had data on 9 on-site businesses. These businesses employed 262 people and generated an estimated $7,480,190 in annual sales revenue. View additional information about redevelopment economics at Superfund sites.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup. For more background, see Institutional Controls.

The conservation easement is the main set of institutional controls for the Site. In 2015 EPA replaced the existing conservation easement with two conservation easements to address property owned by the Economic Development Authority, a third conservation easement to address property owned by Warren County, and a fourth conservation easement to address property owned by Honeywell International Inc. Overall, with one exception, the new easements will provide the same restrictions as the original easement, but they are carved into four separate easements to address the specificity of future development. The original easement prohibited any educational institutions. The revised easement will allow for college-level evening classes.

The original conservation easement cited the Front Royal Town Code for allowable uses on the portion of the Site formerly occupied by the plant (Area 2, 2 A and 2B on Figure 1). The conservation easement is meant to be a permanent restriction that runs with the land. However the Town Code is subject to change. Therefore, to avoid confusion, the revised conservation easement for the Parcels 2, 2A and 2B specifically will list allowable future uses as well as prohibited future uses.

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