The cleanup of almost 2 million railroad ties from a site in Radford, Va., brings to an end a multi-year effort to clear the former industrial location and eliminate a potential environmental concern. Norfolk Southern completed removal of the ties earlier this month, delivering on a long-standing offer to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to transport the ties for free if a suitable disposal site could be found.
Norfolk Southern’s work, which took about five months, means that seven acres of industrial property with rail service and utilities are now available for revitalization.
The ties date to the 1980s, when they were sold and stockpiled for reuse on a private site known as the Hammond property. The owner eventually declared bankruptcy, leaving the property abandoned and the ties posing a fire hazard and other environmental concerns. Three years ago, DEQ’s Brownfields Program, with support from the DEQ regional office in Roanoke, began researching alternatives to traditional disposal by working with private companies to remove the ties.
In early 2011, in response to DEQ’s ongoing efforts to get the site cleaned up, Norfolk Southern proposed a solution that involved transporting the ties via rail to approved disposal facilities. DEQ and Norfolk Southern signed an agreement in July to begin the voluntary removal of the ties. Most of the material went to a permitted facility in Pennsylvania that specializes in incineration of treated wood to create energy.