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Frankford Arsenal Cleanup

When the Frankford Arsenal closed in 1977 it was decommissioned and a cleanup was done.  The work included remediation of radiological contamination, explosive residues, and heavy metal residues.  Since 1996, the Corps of Engineers has performed investigations for munitions and residual chemicals.

The Arsenal is divided into three areas.   Area II is mainly the old Arsenal closest to Bridge Street and extensive testing was done in that area.  The results indicate contamination of lead, PCB’s and Benzo(a)pyrene.  The levels of these contaminants would exclude this area for residential use.  It has been deemed safe for its present use by School Students, Office Workers, Landscapers, Maintenance and Construction Workers.

At a public meeting on August 18th at American Legion Post 224 in Frankford, Todd Beckwith of the Army Corps of Engineers laid out their proposal for remediating the remaining contamination in Area II. To summarize, they propose to remove the contaminated earth where it is accessible and replace it with clean fill.  In the two areas where it is covered, they will leave it alone.  Those green areas on the map below are the contaminated areas.  Click on it for a better view.

arsenal 2

EXCAVATION AND DISPOSAL •  In AOCs (Area of Concern) 1, 6, 10 and 20, the contaminated soils are accessible, and can be easily excavated disposed at an offsite landfill. • Involves the estimated excavation and disposal of an approximately 3,112 cubic yards of contaminated soil from the site

INSTALLATION OF A CAP AND FUTURE USE RESTRICTIONS • In AOCs 13 and 21, the contaminated soil is below an already existing cap (asphalt and/or concrete.  Leaving the caps in place at AOCs 13 and 21 is consistent with future land use in the area..

The entire package of information is available on their web site at this link.

You are invited to comment before August 31st by email or in writing to:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Attn: Todd Beckwith
Room 10400-E, 10 South Howard Street
Baltimore MD 21201

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We’re on the hunt for Frankford’s oldest house

General awesomeness going on in our message board:

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A bunch of Frankford links

I’ve taken a vacation from these links so here’s a couple weeks worth from a couple weeks ago:

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The Frankford Arsenal Lives Still

It lives in the form of a business center.  I have a bit of a different memory.

Arsenal Business Center

Arsenal Business Center

I grew over near the arsenal in Bridesburg.  My great grandfather, Joe Hobson, was a Sargent in the Army and was assigned to the Arsenal from 1880 to about 1901.  Joe met grandmother at the arsenal back then.  She was the cook for the commanding officer.  When they got married, Robert Lincoln, Abe’s son, was secretary of war and was making an inspection visit.  He volunteered to be a witness at the wedding.


Frankford Arsenal Tacony Street Wall

Jim was over that way a few weeks ago and took some pictures.  This one is similar to a shot I took 40 years ago.  Those massive walls on the Tacony Street side are impressive.  The arsenal has been there almost 200 years now and provided valuable service to our country right up through the View Nam war.

Before I-95 rolled its way through the Northeast there was a neighborhood surrounding those walls.  On Bridge Street between Tacony Street and the main gate stood two stately single homes and St. Stephens Episcopal Church.  Opposite the main gate where the on ramp to I-95 is now, was the trolley turn around for the routes 15 and 73.  On Tacony Street, under what is now I-95, were rows of homes.  They were mowed down to make way for the highway.

Iron fencing on Bridge Street side

Iron fencing on Bridge Street side

Before everybody had a car, public transportation was the way people went to work and the workers would stream out of the main gate at quitting time to hop on one of the trolleys.  Now we see the the stark outline of the Sunoco plant and not much sign of life on that stretch of Bridge Street.

If you take a look inside the Arsenal business center though, you can see a lot of activity.  Besides the various businesses located there you will see two charter schools within those walls.  Several of the movies made in Philadelphia in the last few years found space within the arsenal for shooting.

Tacony Street gate

Tacony Street gate

It is one of the landmarks in the Northeast and most of us pass it by daily without giving it a thought.  For me, it holds some pleasant memories.  I rode on a half track one Armed Forces day there.  Walked the parade ground where my great grandfather marched at one time.  Visited friends there.  It deserves a historical society of its own just to tell its story.