CLICK PHOTO TO SEE ANIMATION
My friend Jessica called me last night to tell me about Historic Areals, which is a website which collects areal photos and makes them available for everyone to see. It’s a brilliant concept, and I figured I’d steal some screen shots to talk about the Manville Creosote Factory. Most of you probably know that the former area of the Rustic Mall in Manville was recently the recipient of a Hazardous Materials clean-up after some residents reported black ooze coming up out of the ground. For those of you that arent familiar with the Creosote Factory, it basically made the black tar stuff that they use to coat telephone poles and railroad ties. If you look at the EPA’s report it says that the site contains “undeground canals and lagoons” of creosote, which contaminate the water and soil. If you look at the photo I highlighted the area around where the factory was and made a time lapsed animation of the area just to see exactly how much of the creosote factory property was developed. In the 1931 photo you can see the factory was still in full effect and pretty much strectches back to the Port Reading Junction (where the tracks meet). By 1956 the buildings are gone, by 1963 houses start to appear, and by the 70’s is pretty much a full community. The thing that is really confusing about the clean up is that it only stretched about the size of the Rustic Mall, but you can see in the photos that this is only about a fourth of the entire property of the former factory. I’m assuming that EPA monitored the cleanup, so I’m sure it was done correctly… it’s just so crazy how The Creosote Factory occupied such a huge piece of the town. I’ve been looking around for photos of the place but so far have come up empty. Anyone have any?
Here is a little more info that my buddy Roko tracked down.
“From 1910 until the mid-1950s, the Federal Creosote site was used as a wood treatment facility, which occupied approximately 50 acres in the Borough of Manville. The facility treated railroad ties and telephone poles with coal tar creosote. The excess product was discharged as creosote-contaminated sludges, sediments, process residuals, preservative drippings, and spent process liquid into canals to two lagoons located on the site.
In the mid-1960s, the property exchanged hands and was developed into 35 acres of residential property and 15 acres of commercial property. The Claremont Development residential community of 137 homes and the Rustic Acres Mall were built over much of the former facility property. Unfortunately, the redeveloped property was built on top of the untreated contaminated soil. On at least one occasion, creosote sludge seeped into a residential basement sump and was pumped out into the storm sewer.
In the spring of 1998, EPA conducted extensive surface soil sampling to determine whether there was any immediate threat to current residents. This sampling revealed that surface soil at approximately 19 homes had unacceptable levels of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (material associated with wood treating chemicals).”