CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gary Walton regularly visits the property along the Kanawha River in Nitro which once housed the old Monsanto plant and later Flexsys but is now a wasteland.
During his 15 years as president of the Putnam County Development Authority, Walton brought numerous businesses to the county, but was never able to market a 120-acre piece of riverfront land, which he believes is an ideal piece of real estate.
Walton will leave his position in Putnam about the middle of April and take over as president and CEO of the Huntington Area Development Council, which covers Wayne and Cabell counties, but he still has a plan for the Nitro property.
"There's a lot of potential there, but it's not going to happen overnight," Walton said. "It's a big 'ol piece of flat ground."
The environmental remediation of the land should be completed by 2015, said Ron Potesta, president of the firm handling the project.
In 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Monsanto spinoff Solutia Inc. to draw plans to clean up the property, which was deemed contaminated by the toxic chemical dioxin. Solutia owned the Flexsys plant that closed and was torn down in 2004.
In 2011, Potesta and Associates, an engineering and environmental firm, began work on the multimillion-dollar cleanup project.
Riprap, which is a sustaining wall of stones, has recently been installed to line the riverbank in front of the site. Eventually, caps and covers will be put over the entire site to be used as a protective shield, Potesta said.
Between 1949 and 1971, Monsanto manufactured the herbicide Agent Orange at the Nitro facility, which was used by the U.S. military to defoliate jungles in Southeast Asia. Making the herbicide in Nitro created dioxin as a byproduct.