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Nearing completion of environmental cleanup at YMCA

Nearing completion of environmental cleanup at YMCA

Dec. 28WATERTOWN 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.

In August, the environmental cleanup of PCBs began to remove PCBs from floor tiles and cement floors of the building.

Test results for a small portion of the flooring are expected to be back today. They will decide if the $2,000,000 cleanup is completed in the former Call Center at 146 Arsenal St.

The final design for the YMCA community center is still being developed by an engineering firm. Construction is scheduled to begin early next year.

“So we’ll still have some time before construction begins at the YMCA,” stated David J. Zembiec chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development.

The building will be converted to a facility with a six lane lap pool, separate full-size recreational pool, and two full-size tennis court with a running track above.

Since last summer, the YMCA project was delayed while environmental cleanup work was completed using scarifying to remove a layer at a time of cement.

The Jefferson County Industrial Agency is the sister organization to the JCEDC. 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.

An adhesive used to install the floor tiles contained a PCB contaminated oil that leaked into the cement beneath them.

During the cleanup the floor was covered in 650 10-by-10 tiles.

One eighth of an inch was taken from each section of the flooring and tested for PCBs. Mr. Zembiec indicated that if there were more contaminants, another eighth of an inch of the flooring would be removed.

The flooring was removed up to three-quarters inch.

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The test results for the last 12 squares are expected to be available later today. Mr. Zembiec said that if they come back clean, then construction on the YMCA can start. If they don’t, the cement must be removed from that 12-square-foot section.

Because they were contained, the health risks from PCBs in the flooring are not present.

The costs of remediation are borne by the JCIDA, who still owns the building.

Purcell Construction was the general contractor for the YMCA Project and was paid extra to clean up the PCBs.

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, most recently, a call centre.

Paradigm Environmental Services, Watertown, created the remediation plan in collaboration with Sessler Environmental Services.

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