EPA Smooths Way for Redevelopment of Former Downingtown Waste Site


Release date: 3/17/1999

Contact Information: Ruth Podems, (215) 814-5540

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa.  - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has signed a prospective purchaser agreement with SERENA, Inc. concerning a 10.6-acre parcel of the former O’Brien Machinery industrial site in Downingtown, Chester County.  SERENA plans to build residential housing at the property on Washington and Green Streets.

EPA negotiates prospective purchaser agreements with potential buyers of properties where Superfund hazardous waste cleanups have occurred.  The agreements are intended to encourage re-use of these sites by giving buyers legal protection from liability for existing contamination -- in return for the buyer’s cooperation in EPA’s cleanup objectives.  

"EPA recognizes that liability fears may impede the sale of former Superfund sites.  Agreements like this one help return these properties to productive use, creating jobs and expanding a community’s tax base," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe.  

From 1992 through 1997, EPA spent $1.5 million to clean up  the site, where the now-defunct O’Brien Machinery Co. once built and repaired large industrial generators.   EPA removed transformers that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and cleaned up contaminated soil and building materials.  PCBs,  probable carcinogens, are contained in liquid insulation formerly used in electrical equipment, but are now banned.

SERENA, which plans to acquire the property through foreclosure proceedings, proposes an additional $1 million in final cleanup activities --  including a controlled demolition of existing structures and cleanup of any residual PCB contamination at the site to safe residential levels.