BDC fined $75,000 by W.Va. DEP

WEIRTON — The Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle has been fined $75,000 by the state Department of Environmental Protection for contamination at the Beech Bottom Industrial Park, although officials say efforts to clean up the site have been an ongoing process.

The BDC, which focuses on economic development projects in Hancock and Brooke counties, purchased the site — previously the Wheeling Corrugating plant in Beech Bottom — in November 2012.

Much of the contamination cited by DEP inspectors two months ago is from elevated levels of zinc, remaining from operations of the previous ownership.

“The BDC has not contributed to any environmental challenge at any property we acquire,” BDC Executive Director Pat Ford said.

He noted since acquiring the Beech Bottom property, the BDC has put more than $1 million into remediating contaminants from the property. This includes $25,000 for the removal of old paint, $55,000 for the removal of contaminants located in drums stored on site, $55,000 for cleanup of the on-site wastewater treatment facility, $425,000 to test the soil and $400,000 for cleanup of the soil.

“We bought this out of bankruptcy. They just left it,” Ford said.

The BDC purchased the property in partnership with Los Angeles-based investment company Hackman Capital for $4.3 million through the bankruptcy of RG Steel.

Ford explained the BDC has been working with the DEP on remediating the site, with the state agency in possession of a long-term corrective action plan. In recent years, the DEP has recognized the BDC for its environmental cleanup efforts with its Land Stewardship award.

“This is what we signed up for,” Ford said, noting such legacy issues often are what keep private investors away from brownfield sites. “We are taking care of it.”