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EPA begins sealing off what’s been dubbed ‘Fairmont’s Chernobyl’

By Esteban Fernandez, Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the concrete steps it’s taking in partnership with West Virginia agencies to secure the abandoned and polluted Fairmont Brine Processing Plant.

The agency placed temporary barriers at the entrances this week as well as rolled out a public phone line and webpage that it hopes will increase transparency and inform the public about the dangers at the site.

Christine Wagner, the EPA’s on scene coordinator, hopes the temporary barrier will soon make way for something more permanent.

“We prepared a package for vendors to bid on,” Wagner said. “And that package has gone out today to several possible vendors that we have. And when we receive the bids back, then we will award the subcontract. And then the work will begin.”

Wagner said that it takes about a week for the bids to get back. Once the bids are received, the EPA will pick the winning vendor and work will begin.

The EPA conducted initial emergency surveys in order to figure out what is needed to stabilize the site. It will also be doing thorough evaluations to determine if any contamination has been released to the environment. Wagner said that the focus is on Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material, which poses a danger to human health.

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