Pattye Benson

Community Matters

East Whiteland Township

Bishop Tube: Abandoned Toxic Site in Malvern — The Next Townhouse Community? Learn About the Clean-Up Status from Maya van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

The Bishop Tube Co., a former steel tubing plant which produced stainless steel tubes from the 1950s until 1999 consists of 13 acres and is located off Malin Road, south of Route 30 in Malvern, East Whiteland Township. The property is a highly contaminated site with Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) accused of neglecting the problem for decades. For DEP history and recent updates on Bishop Tube, click here.

Photo by Carla Zambelli

Former owners of the site did not remove contaminants, including a carcinogen (trichloroethylene, or TCE) that was used as a degreaser. TCE has been linked to cancer and was found in the property’s soil, groundwater and Little Valley Creek which borders the Bishop Tube property. Located directly east of the property is the General Warren Village where residents suspect that the toxic substances have spread into their community, causing cancer and other illnesses.

Developer Brian O’Neill purchased the Bishop Tube property to build 228 houses on the contaminated site with cleanup required. Some neighbors fear that the planned cleanup would further expose them to the contaminants. From the start the redevelopment project has been plagued with problems — accusations of impropriety, innuendos of preferential treatment, legal battles from multiple sides and more players than one can count.

My friend and fellow blogger, Carla Zambelli has closely followed O’Neill’s proposed townhouse project at Bishop Tube site; keeping us informed on Chester County Ramblings. I suggest visiting the blog, and entering Bishop Tube in the ‘search’ on the homepage for multiple articles.

A very loud voice demanding cleanup for the highly toxic industrial site comes from Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN), and environmental group and its leader for twenty-three years, Maya van Rossum. In an attempt to silence and seek damages, O’Neill filed a $50,000 SLAPP lawsuit against van Rossum and DRN. Chester County Court of Common Appeals dismissed the lawsuit, however the case remains active in the Superior Court.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network works throughout the four states of the Delaware River watershed (NY, NJ, PA & DE) and at the national level using advocacy, science and litigation.

On Wednesday, April 4, 7:30 PM at Great Valley Presbyterian Church, van Rossum will be the guest speaker for the annual meeting of Open Land Conservancy of Chester County – the public is invited. (See flyer below).

Please spread the word on this meeting — For locals, it will be a great opportunity for a firsthand update on the contaminated Bishop Tube site from someone on the front lines!



It’s official, Shire will leave Tredyffrin for neighboring East Whiteland Township

So close, yet so far away. We have known for some time that Shire was planning to move its headquarters from its current Chesterbrook location but we now know where. According to a press release on Main Line Media News, Shire has signed the paperwork for the construction of a 600,000 square ft. office complex on Trammel Crow property at Atwater Business Park.

Shire has grown significantly since coming to Chesterbrook in 2004 and as a result, the employees are spread among four buildings. The company has expanded from 100 to 1,500 employees and apparently, there was not an option in Tredyffrin to create an adequate business complex. The opening of the new Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange is a bonus to companies that relocate to Atwater Business Park that is at the intersection of Rt. 29 and Yellow Springs Road in Malvern, East Whiteland Township. The move is expected to occur by the end of 2015.

Because the relocation is literally next-door to Tredyffrin Township, the good news is that the employees that live in are unlikely to move. Initially there was discussion that Shire was considering relocation possibilities in Delaware or New Jersey in addition to Pennsylvania but in the end, the decision was made to stay in Chester County. The official statement included the following rationale Shire’s decision of the Atwater Business Park — “geographic accessibility by current and future staff, a flexible footprint that will allow us to meet future growth and changing business requirements, and a single, contiguous layout that facilitates interaction and collaboration by our staff.”

Now that Shire’s decision on ‘where’ they will move is official, the township is not only faced with the upcoming vacancy of four large corporate buildings in Chesterbrook but much more. I would be remiss not to mention the enormous community contribution and support from Shire since relocating to Tredyffrin Township eight years ago – summer concert series, annual fireworks, Shire Pavilion in Wilson Farm Park, Tredyffrin 300 sponsorship, and the list goes on and on. Shire has been there for the Tredyffrin Township community whenever needed – their departure from the township is a real loss.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia Business Journal reported that on a number of vacancies in Chesterbrook, which are addition to Shire’s current lease of 425,000 sq. ft. AstraZeneca terminated its lease on 25,000 sq. ft., Liberty Mutual Insurance ended its 25,000 sq. ft. lease early, GFK Healthcare relocated out of 50,000 sq. ft., Navteq pulled out of 40,000 sq. ft and Centocor moved from their 120,000 sq. ft. location. These companies are either already out of Chesterbrook office park or are in the process of leaving.

Tredyffrin Township needs a an economic development plan for revitalization … where’s the Tredyffrin Township Business Development Council on the corporate mass exodus from Chesterbrook? Remember their June 18, 2012 report, click here.


Update — Since posting this article, a friend pointed out that East Whiteland Township has an Earned Income Tax. So … all those Shire employees who will continue to live in Tredyffrin Township and work in East Whiteland will pay an EIT. But because Tredyffrin Township does not have an EIT, no portion of that money will return to Tredyffrin Township but will remain in East Whiteland.

From the East Whiteland Township website:

A .5% Earned Income/Net Profits Tax became effective April 3, 1996 by passage of Township Ordinance Number 110-96. The tax requires that all persons living or working in the Township pay .5% on all individual gross earnings and net profits from businesses.

So much for the theory that companies will choose Tredyffrin Township because we have not implemented an Earned Income Tax. Here’s a major international pharmaceutical company moving its headquarters from a location without an EIT to a new location with an EIT.

  • Will it ever be the ‘right time’ to honestly and openly discuss an EIT?
  • How many millions of dollars are leaving the school district and the township annually and being paid to other townships?
  • Or is the answer to TESD and Tredyffrin Township that we just keep cutting programming, personnel, etc. etc?
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