Senator Blunt visits demolition of Bannister Federal Complex
By John Sharp
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and Carol Comer, Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), looked over the first building being demolished at the vacant Bannister Federal Complex and took a brief guided tour of the Complex grounds Friday, February 2.
Blunt, Comer and other invited government officials and media representatives including me also listened to presentations on how the building demolition and cleanup of extensive building and ground contamination at the site would be conducted to protect workers and the community.
Blunt and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver were the main proponents of legislation enacted in December 2016 that gave the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) authority to reallocate funds to pay a private developer (and owner) to demolish the buildings and clean up contamination.
Blunt said the Complex is on an “incredibly well-located piece of land that we didn’t want to see just abandoned by the federal government and deteriorating.”
“The federal government stepped up,” Blunt said, noting “This property comes with a big check ($211 million) for demolition and to clean up the site.”
“This will be a real economic engine,” he said.
Kevin Breslin, a principal owner of Bannister Transformation & Development, said about 100 persons are already working on demolishing the approximately 4.3 million square feet of buildings on the 225-acre site. Eventually 300-to 400 persons will be working on demolition and cleanup.
He said demolition of the main manufacturing building on the site should start mid to late summer, and all demolition should be completed in a little less than two years.
Air monitoring equipment assures contaminated dust isn’t spreading to surrounding areas. Its data is collected every five minutes, according to David Schauer, project manager for Brandenburg Industrial Service Co., which specializes in hazardous material removal.
Demolition and cleanup will be monitored by DNR. Comer said her staff will be on site three or four times a week during the process.
Underground utilities will be removed or capped. Contaminated soil will be excavated and taken by rail to properly licensed landfills. And contaminated storm sewers will be filled and capped to end their contamination of nearby streams and rivers.
Contaminated soil will be replaced. Additional dirt will be brought in to raise the elevation of some places by as much as ten feet to keep it out of the flood plain.
Following all that work, Breslin said the site should be ready for redevelopment in about four years. It will be developed primarily as an industrial park with some commercial and retail uses outside the flood wall just east of Troost. He said he expects the redevelopment to create at least 1,000 permanent jobs.
The Complex originally was used to manufacture military aircraft engines during World War II, and much of it was later used to make the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons for the NNSA. The interior of manufacturing areas are contaminated by asbestos, beryllium, lead-based paint and PCBs, and soil and groundwater are contaminated by fuel, PCBs and solvents.