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Brownfields Case Study


Warren, Rhode Island

Final Update: February 1998

Site Characteristics:
The former Carol Cable facility is a 240,000 square foot building located on a 10.4 acre site on Metacom Avenue in Warren, RI. The building was constructed in 1899 and was used as a textile mill until 1968. From 1968 until 1990, the site was used for the manufacture of wire and cable products. From 1990 until 1995, manufacturing operations ceased and the building was used as a warehouse.

Environmental Issues:
The site underwent various site assessment and investigation activities in the early 1990's which found petroleum contamination due to oil spills from compressors and machining operations. Furthermore, lead contamination was found from the manufacture of car battery terminals. General Cable Co., the parent company of Carol Cable, voluntarily undertook cleanup operations under DEM supervision and by 1994 the heaviest areas of petroleum and lead contamination had been excavated and removed from the site. The removal actions included excavation and removal of lead-contaminated sediments from the bank of a cooling water pond. Additional soils were removed that had been contaminated with lead from an exhaust fan. After these removal actions, low level residual lead contamination remained in soil and sediment at the site.

The Brownfields Issue:
A stigma remained on the property due to the presence of the residual contamination. A prospective purchaser, Display World Inc. (aka DW Properties, Inc.), proposed to relocate retail display manufacturing operations, with 125 employees and planned to expand to over 200, to the site from outside Rhode Island. This relocation was contingent on resolving the environmental issues in an expedited manner consistent with the proposed use of the property. Furthermore, as prospective purchaser they wanted to be held harmless for problems resulting from past operations at the site.

The Settlement Agreement:
Remedial objectives were quickly determined based on the prospective purchasers commitment to maintaining the property for non-residential purposes. Based on this future use, the residual lead levels in soil on-site did not require further remediation. Further, engineering controls were specified to prevent the migration of contaminated sediment from the cooling water pond. During the month of February 1996, the relief pipe from an underground spring was extended coincident with the overflow structure. Valves were installed to direct flow above and below the overflow structure and will be used to control the water level in the pond. Furthermore, a breech in the overflow structure was repaired, the area around the relief pipe was re-graded, a staff gauge was installed in the pond to determine the water elevation and an operational plan was developed to ensure that the sediment would not overflow out. Finally, existing discharges to the pond, including lines from a basement sump and cooling lines, were eliminated.

Unique or Complicating Factors:
The engineering controls for the pond were conducted in a wetland area. Because these actions were an integral part of the final remedy at the site, an exemption to the wetland alteration permitting process was applicable for the cleanup activities. Under this exemption, these projects are subject to a consistency review by the wetlands staff at DEM. However, the financial institution funding the project was reluctant to extend the line of credit until all work had been completed. This conservatism was beyond the level we expected to encounter when the statute was drafted. Our assumption was that a Covenant not to Sue by the State based on a specific, negotiated scope of work for cleanup would be sufficient for funding the project prior to the completion of work. DEM believes this issue may be related to the fact that at the time of this project, the program was very new and the financial community had not become completely aware of our efforts. Outreach activities targeted at the lending institutions have been ongoing to provide information and build confidence in the program.

Economic Benefits:
The property is currently assessed at $179,000 and the current property tax is $6,464 per year. The 125 new employees generate an approximate $136,000 per annum in estimated State income tax

This site is a joint effort of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and Rhode Island Statewide Planning Program

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