MIAMI — The cleanup project at the old B.F. Goodrich plant should be completed by the last week of January, according to Mike McAteer, federal on-scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 6, which includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.

“We added crew right after Thanksgiving trying to speed it up a little bit,” McAteer said. “Once we got in, we found more asbestos than we thought, so we thought I better add to the crew.”

The work is part of Phase 2, which was to include the removal of the powerhouse building and removing a carbon black tank and Banbury mixers.

McAteer said the powerhouse would not come down after all.

“The only buildings that had to come down were the oven building and the small brick office,” he said. “The powerhouse building is being abated, but it is structurally sound. The building technically could be used again. We could have done a knockdown, but that is a huge building to tear down.

“We had an engineer come out and said the building is structurally sound.”

The highest priority on Phase 1, which began in June, was the removal and off-site disposal of numerous debris piles and two structures as well as securing access to the entire area of asbestos contamination.

The B.F. Goodrich plant, which opened in 1946, was Miami’s largest employer for years.

But in 1986, Goodrich shut down its operations here.

After several attempts to sell the complex, it fell into disrepair.

In 1988, B.F. Goodrich was sold to Michelin North America.

Michelin never actually owned the Miami property, but worked with the City of Miami on a cleanup plan.

Real Estate Remediation, LLC of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a subsidiary of the Blakeney Company, was hired to do remediation work, but completed about 70% of the work before declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2014.

“I hope I don’t jinx it, but everything has gone very well,” McAteer said.

McAteer said the main crews have taken a two-week break for the holidays, but work continues on the powerhouse.

“They want to get out of there, get it all tidied up and cleared,” he said. “It has to be cleared before they can say it’s done. That was a big undertaking, so they’ve had a lot of guys in there every day. Even though we’re shut down for Christmas and New Year’s they decided to work most of the days during that period, which is fine with me.

“We are very happy with the way it’s gone. It will be a nice clean piece of property hopefully for someone to use again.”

In addition to asbestos, there were materials left in that one warehouse that faces Goodrich Blvd., McAteer said that there were thousands of florescent bulbs which all contain some mercury that need to be removed.

“Those are still there, but they’re packaged. We’re just now finding a ‘home’ for them so to speak, a disposal facility, which we should have done in the next few weeks,” McAteer said.

He said there have been talks with several companies about the carbon black tower.

“I think we’ve settled on one that is going to take care of the problem and get rid of all that material in there,” McAteer said.

One thing that has surprised McAteer is the outpouring of community kindness.

“They've been bringing over trays of cookies and donuts and nice little cards to say ‘thank you,’” he said. “I want to say a great big thank you to folks in the neighborhood, the City of Miami and the LEAD Agency, who also has been very, very kind to us. We don't see that very often at EPA.

“We appreciate the fact that we feel appreciated. We were overwhelmed by that. We just don't see that very often.”