Prichard city officials confirm that testing in the Whistler area of Prichard has found PCBs on the site of an old railroad building.
PCBs are man-made chemicals once used in industrial equipment that have been shown to cause cancer.
But, Prichard’s mayor said there is money to clean up the area and re-develop it.
The area in question is along Wasson Avenue in between Main Street and Turner Road, where a railroad maintenance building stood in the 1800s.
A $400,000 federal grant is funding a study into whether hazardous chemicals may be on the site.
The program is called the City of Prichard Brownfields Program
When asked what’s been found so far, Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam said, “Mostly just PCBs that have been identified from use of the textile and the coal mining plants that were actually used during the old railroad train station days.”
Federal officials have determined PCBs are reasonably likely to cause cancer in humans.
Ephriam said, “When you rank these particular contaminants, I wouldn’t consider these to be the highest level of threat, but, they are, in fact, areas of contamination, and areas on our parcels that the state agencies and the federal agencies say have to be removed.”
And, Ephriam said cleanup crews will remove them also using federal money.
Debra Love, Project Manager for the Prichard Brownfields Program, said, “We’re going to apply for a cleanup grant. We’re going to cleanup that site, and, actually put it back into use.”
DEVELOPING THE AREA
Mayor Ephriam told people at a meeting Tuesday morning that some of the ideas he’s looking at for that property include green spaces, a Farmer’s Market, or, even, a city park.”
The land is next to the planned Whistler Historic Bike Trail.
People who live in Whistler said they’re glad to see work being done, but more is needed.
Carol James said, “It does need a lot of cleaning, and there are some drainage problems, also, over in that area.”
Paula Blevins said, “We would like green spaces for parks and families. We would like some piers in areas, because we have a lot of fishermen in Whistler.”
Whistler was annexed into the City of Prichard in the 1950’s.