Former DuPont land on Potomac in W.Va. sold

By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
news@crossroadsbizjournal.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The DuPont Potomac River Works property in Falling Waters, W.Va., recently was purchased by a Winchester, Va.-based company for $4,050,000.

Potomac River Works L.C., a newly created corporate entity related to Howard Shockey & Sons Inc., completed the purchase of about 1,248 acres from Chemours Co. FC LLC, according to Berkeley County, W.Va., property deed records.

John P. Good Jr. of Potomac River Works said the company has no immediate plans for the property, which is accessed from U.S. 11 less than a half-mile north of W.Va. 901.

“We don’t have any formal announcement to make at this time,” he said.

Established in August, Potomac River Works is managed by Good and J. Donald Shockey Jr., who are officers of Howard Shockey & Sons Inc., according to the West Virginia secretary of state’s business organization database.

Chemours Co. FC LLC is a company that DuPont created in 2015 to take over management of the industrial site along Dupont Road.

Shockey’s acquisition of the property comes a little more than a year after the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued a statement of basis and solicited public comments on a proposed remedy to address contamination at the industrial site, which was used for nitroglycerine and dynamite manufacturing from 1953 to 1977, according to the state agency.

Water-gel explosives and smokeless powder were manufactured at the plant in the 1970s, and ammonia-nitrate fuel-oil explosives were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, environmental department officials said.

Flexible explosives also were manufactured until 1994, when DuPont ceased all explosive-manufacturing operations.

Good said Tuesday there currently is “little to no” commercial activity at the property, which more recently was the site of manufacturing and assembly of Fasloc cartridges, which are nonexplosive roof-bolt grouting systems used in mining and construction.

Contaminants that have been identified in the property’s soil and groundwater include “nitrates, a few volatile organic compounds such as methylene chloride, and 1,2-Dichloroethane and lead,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online profile of the hazardous-waste-cleanup site.

Some areas where spills occurred potentially are contaminated with explosive compounds such as nitroglycerin, according to the EPA.

The West Virginia environmental department’s proposed remedy for the facility includes soil excavation and offsite disposal, groundwater monitoring, and engineering and institutional controls to implement land and groundwater-use restrictions.

The property includes more than 350 acres of buffer land, as well as more than 660 acres of former landfill and product-storage area and more than 220 acres that have been used for manufacturing over the years, according to the EPA.

The DuPont property joins at least two other large Berkeley County industrial sites that have been purchased by entities related to Howard Shockey & Sons over the last 15 years, according to county property deed records.

In December 2003, Berkeley Business Park Associates L.C. purchased the former Corning Glass and World Kitchen manufacturing property south of Martinsburg for $3 million, according to deed records.

The property at 5550 Winchester Ave., since has been repurposed for a facility that houses a variety of tenants, including Blue Ridge Community and Technical College’s technology center.

In November 2005, Berkeley Business Park Associates II L.C. purchased the former General Motors distribution center off exit 16 of Interstate 81 for $20 million, according to deed records.

Rebranded as the Shockey Commerce Center, the facility at 891 Auto Parts Place off W.Va. 9 now serves as a multitenant distribution/warehouse. The facility, which has 2 million square feet under roof, is situated on about 225 acres.