Once-contaminated site gets ‘ready to reuse’ state certification

Nine years ago, the cleanup of an industrial site in Jefferson Parish began in earnest, just in time for the entire area to get flooded with several feet of water during Hurricane Katrina.

Despite that setback, Shell Oil Co. pushed forward with the effort and on Tuesday celebrated the fact that the completed cleanup of the site at 309 Jefferson Highway has received a seal of approval from the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The facility received “ready to reuse” certification from the state and federal agencies, confirming that cleanup of the industrial site has met standards that assure future investors that the property is ready to be back on the market.

“Cleaning up these 17 acres and putting them back into commerce is what we all strive for,” said Peggy Hatch, the DEQ secretary.

The 17-acre site is bordered by Earhart Expressway to the north, Jefferson Highway to the south and industrial facilities to the west and east.

In an emailed statement, Jefferson Parish President John Young congratulated Shell on the accomplishment.

“Seventeen acres of previously contaminated land will now be returned to productive use for the benefit of the environment, communities and business interests,” Young said.

The particular property has been used for oil blending and packaging for decades, starting in 1929 when the Butterfarm Grease and Oil Co. of Louisiana began operations. Shell Oil bought the site in 1949 and the facility continued similar work in blending and packaging specialty oil and other products as the Metairie Lube Oil Blending Facility.

Determining the extent of the on-site contamination and working to address any problems started in the 1980s and continued until the site was decommissioned in 2007. The search for possible contamination included groundwater monitoring and soil removal.

The real clean-up work started in 2005 and eventually led to the demolition and disposal of 83 tanks and 11,000 linear feet of pipe, said Dan Kirk, principal program manager for the soil and groundwater focus delivery group with Shell Oil Products.

In addition, about 2,200 tons of metal were recycled as well as about 10,000 tons of concrete that was crushed, tested and readied to be used for surface cover on the property. The property will be sold.

Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.