DuPont Pipeline to be Removed

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

BELLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Workers at a chemical plant in the Kanawha Valley are gearing up to take down a piece of history.

If you travel on Route 60, you're soon going to see some major activity on a hillside across from the DuPont plant.

It was quite the modern marvel back in the 1930 as it was used in the production of ammonia. The plant manager says the pipeline system allowed for gravity to do the work and help save energy.

The momentum of the water running down the pipes helped dissolve ammonia gases. Today, however, that chemical is trucked in from the Gulf Coast.

The pipeline was in operation for 20 years but has since sat empty; DuPont says the ultimate goal was to take it apart.

"We like to maintain a good neighborly status with the community," plant manager Jim O'Connor said. "We don't want to leave old equipment, and so this is part of our normal renewal process."

Beginning on Monday, April 15, at least one lane of Route 60 West will be shut down. Then a safety barrier will go up to prevent rocks and debris from falling on the roadway or injuring workers.

Workers will dismantle the large pipes measuring roughly 1,000 feet long. DuPont says the pipes are not a threat to the environment.

"The pipes have been open since the 1960s, so there's nothing in them -- we don't anticipate to find any residue or any process material of any kind." O'Connor said. "The most significant hazard is gravity because it's a very steep mountain and the snakes that occupy that as their home."

The old rail line that hauled workers and materials up and down the hill will also be taken out and everything will then be recycled.

It is expected to take until the end of August to remove that system. Once the pipeline is removed, part of Route 60 will be shut down again for three weeks in September so workers can remove the safety wall.

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