State Awards Grant to Assess Atom Smasher Site

Dec 24, 2013

The site of the world’s first industrial atom smasher will be environmentally assessed and remediated for future development.

An $88,000 grant given to Forest Hills Borough from the state will help pay for the study of the Westinghouse Atom Smasher, the light bulb-shaped building situated near Chalfant Borough.

State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) said there is a lot of work to be done before remediation can take place.

“This is the first step in several steps that’s going to lead to the remediation of this property and allow us to make it available for future use,” Costa said.

P&L Investments, a D.C.-based brownfield developer, has expressed interest in building homes on the site. 

Forest Hills Borough Manager Steve Morus said, when Westinghouse left the site, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission provided a statement saying the property was clean for re-use. He said, in order to make the site a residential zone, a much more intense study of the property is needed.

“We don’t understand there to be very much contamination left there,” Morus said. “But until someone actually comes in and formally does a study, anything minor or small that might be there we’re not aware of.”

Morus said the borough will have to hire one independent contactor to provide the assessment, and another to clean up anything found.

He said it’s still too early to tell what development will call the site home after remediation.

“We don’t know for sure that anything’s going to be approved yet, as far as what is actually going to go on the site,” said Morus. “That has to go through a process and I don’t want people to think, just because we’re going to do this remediation to this grant, that everything has been approved. There’s still a long way to go.”

Costa said some people in the community want the smasher to stay and are looking into turning it into an educational tool.