New Shipyard Warehouse Sought

Posted: April 01, 1989

WASHINGTON — Citing concerns for health and safety, two area congressmen want to put $9.7 million in the next federal budget to build a warehouse for flammable materials at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.

Reps. Thomas M. Foglietta (D., Pa.) and Curt Weldon (R., Pa.) this week asked the subcommittee on military installations and facilities of the House Armed Services Committee to authorize $9.7 million in fiscal 1990 to replace a 50-year-old storage building.

They said the warehouse, which holds flammable materials such as paints, solvents and metal cleaners, poses a threat to the environment because it is next to a basin that flows into the Schuylkill and, ultimately, the Delaware River.

"The warehouse was built in 1939. However, its fire-protection features are grossly outdated. Furthermore, it is located adjacent to a large fuel- storage area," Foglietta and Weldon wrote to subcommittee chairwoman Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D., Colo.).

"A fire in the warehouse could easily spread, endangering the people in the vicinity, along with causing disastrous air contamination," they wrote.

They cited a "smoldering insulation fire" 18 months ago at a building near the warehouse as evidence of the potential danger.

Al Peterson, a spokesman for the shipyard, said that if funds were made available, a new warehouse would be built where toxic materials could not pollute the river in the event of an accident or fire.

In another matter related to the Navy Yard, 17 House and Senate members

from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware asked William L. Ball 3d, secretary of the Navy, to consider building an extension to a drydock wharf there.

The extension would increase efficiency of the yard when it is "working simultaneously on two aircraft carriers or other combinations of large ships," the members wrote this week.

The Navy Yard is the site of about half of the East Coast drydock facilities for aircraft carriers and battleships, Foglietta said. But in the final stages of SLEP overhaul, carriers in one pier block the entrance to a drydock that could be used for other work.

"With the necessary design preparations, the project could be initiated in fiscal year 1991 and be available in 1992 when (the yard) is expected to work simultaneously on two carriers," the congressmen wrote to Ball.

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