Contaminated Groundwater to Postpone Property Transfer by Two Years at Willow Grove

Contaminated Groundwater to Postpone Property Transfer by Two Years at Willow Grove

Transfer of the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove to the Horsham LRA will be pushed back to 2018 due to the presence of perfluorinated compounds in the groundwater on and around the property located north of Philadelphia.

Discovery of the contamination in 2014, suspected to have come from firefighting foam used at the base as well as at the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, already had delayed talks with the Navy over conveying 600 of the property’s 862 acres. But the new lifetime exposure health advisories the Environmental Protection Agency issued in May for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) will postpone the handover for two years, said Michael McGee, executive director of the LRA.

“Redevelopment takes a backseat to remediating the problem and coming up with a game plan here,” McGee told the Intelligencer.

The question as to whether the contamination affects the base’s redevelopment plan won’t become clear until EPA crafts a remediation plan for the Navy later his year.

“I’m not suggesting there aren’t impacts to the redevelopment plan, but there are unknowns,” he said.

Previous setbacks already have put Horsham in line to become one of the last closure communities from the 2005 BRAC round to gain control of its base property.

No one on the authority said they were concerned Catellus Development Corp., selected in 2015 to act as master developer, would walk away from its development deal, according to the story.

“[Is Catellus] champing at the bit to get started? Yes, and so are we. So is the Navy. So is everyone,” McGee said.

The site’s reuse plan calls for a town center; 1,416 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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