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New tests raise hopes for spec. building sale

The former Escambia wood treatment facility site in theindustrial park may not be the waste land environmental officialsfeared, which would remove its negative impact on the neighboringspeculative building, officials said.

“The Department of Environmental Quality and EnvironmentalProtection Agency have been retesting the Escambia wood treatmentfacility site,” said Cliff Brumfield, executive director of theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

Years ago, following Escambia’s closure, dioxins were found inthe soil at the site. More recently, there were indications ofdioxins in the soil on the edge of the adjacent speculativebuilding property.

The discovery “rendered the (speculative) building all butunmarketable because of the cost of the cleanup,” Brumfieldsaid.

However, in recent months, during tests to monitor the dioxinlevel at the site, the environmentalists have determined the levelsmay be much less than the previous tests indicated and have begunretesting the site, Brumfield said.

“We are taking this news with great hopes of being able toutilize the facility and to rid any dangers of other negativeimpacts of the Escambia site,” he said.

Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, who first established thespeculative building while serving as executive director of thechamber, agreed. Since the environmental test results wereannounced, he said, Brumfield “has done an excellent job” inpromoting the site.

“It definitely has some marketability now,” Bishop said. “I’vesat in on two discussions between the Chamber of Commerce andprospective buyers about that building. There’s definitely someinterest.”

Some cleanup may still be necessary at the site when the testsare completed, Brumfield said. The cost of those operations couldnot be determined until the tests are complete.

The 50,000-square foot speculative building was built in 1995with 3,500 square feet of space on a five-acre site in theindustrial park. The city and county spent approximately $200,000each to fund the building as an economic development opportunity todraw in prospective industries, Bishop said.

The discovery of dioxins deep in the soil leeching onto theproperty from the Escambia site after the building was completedeliminated the possibility of it being used as a potential site ofincoming industries, however, Bishop said.

“The way it is today it’s not as critical as it once was. Wehave the technology now to eliminate those risks,” he said.”I thinkit’s a great building and it will be a good site for a company tolocate.”

The building has been used for storage by the city and countyover the past decade, Bishop said, so it hasn’t stood completelyidle.