WATERTOWN Officials should find out today if an environmental cleanup has been completed so that construction can begin on the long-awaited YMCA in an old Arsenal Street call centre.
The environmental cleanup for PCBs began in August to remove PCBs and cement floor tiles from the building’s floor tiles.
However, test results for a small area of flooring are expected back today. These will determine if the $2 million cleanup in the former call center at the 146 Arsenal St. is complete.
The final design for the YMCA’s community center project is still being developed by an engineering firm. Construction is scheduled to begin early next year.
David J. Zembiec (chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development) said that it is important to allow time for construction of the YMCA project to begin.
The building will be transformed into a facility that includes a six-lane lap swimming pool, a separate full size recreational pool, two full-size tennis courts, and a running track.
The YMCA project has been delayed from last summer while environmental cleanup work was done using scarifying to remove a layer or cement at a given time.
The Jefferson County Industrial Agency is the sister organization to the JCEDCs. However, once the PCBs have been removed, the building will be transferred to the YMCA.
The 1979 U.S. ban on PCBs, also known as polychlorinated Biphenyls, was made because these chemicals pose a danger to health. They were used extensively in hydraulic fluids, electrical equipment, and lubricants.
The adhesive used to attach the floor tiles contained a PCB-contaminated oil, which seeped into cement beneath the tiles.
650 10-by-10 pieces were used as blocks to protect the floor during the cleanup.
Each section of the flooring was completed in eight inches. Then, the flooring was tested to see if the PCBs had been successfully removed. Mr. Zembiec stated that if more contaminants were found, another eight inches of flooring was removed.
The flooring was removed up to three-quarters inch.
The test results for the last 12 squares are expected to be available later today. Mr. Zembiec stated that if they are clean, construction of the YMCA can begin. If they do not, then the cement must also be removed from the 12-square section.
Because they were contained, the PCBs found in the flooring of buildings have not been a health risk.
The cost of remediation is borne by the JCIDA which still owns this building.
Purcell Construction, the general contractor on the YMCA project was responsible for the cleanup of PCBs and was paid an additional amount.
The contamination was discovered in testing that was being done to determine the presence of asbestos in floor tiles in the 68,000 square-foot building, which once housed an F.W. Woolworth store, built in 1971, and then a call center.
Paradigm Environmental Services, Watertown, created the remediation plan in collaboration with Sessler Environmental Services.