Groundwater Contamination Slows Handover of NAS Willow Grove

Talks between the Navy and the Horsham LRA over the terms for conveying the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove most likely will not be completed until officials determine how they will clean up perfluorinated compounds discovered last year in the groundwater on and around the property located north of Philadelphia.

The Navy “has been aggressively attacking the problem,” according to Michael McGee, executive director of the LRA, but the redevelopment authority still needs to revise its purchase proposal and other planning documents as a result of the contamination.

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering what remedy will be required to clean up the chemicals, which were used in firefighting foams.

“Until that happens, I don’t think either party, the Navy or the HLRA, is ready to come to the table” to negotiate a sale of the base, McGee said at the authority’s meeting Wednesday, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The delay looks to make Horsham one of the last closure communities from the 2005 round of BRAC to gain control of its base property. The Navy will be responsible for the cleanup, even if it is not completed when it transfers the land.

Despite the complications caused by the discovery of perfluorinated compounds, the LRA’s effort to carry out the site’s reuse plan continues to advance. Earlier this year, the city selected Oakland, Calif.-based Catellus Development Corp. to act as master developer. The reuse plan calls for  a town center; 1,486 residential units of various types; 1.8 million square feet of commercial uses, including a hotel/conference center; 452,000 square feet of other uses including a regional recreation center, new school and aviation museum; and parks and open space.


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