The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management (LM) is proud to announce that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the 2020 Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Award to the Weldon Spring Site. This award recognizes noteworthy restoration and reuse of federal facility sites through innovative thinking and cooperation among federal agencies, states, tribes, local partners, and developers.
On how beneficial reuse is exemplified at the site, Weldon Spring Site Manager Ken Starr states, “Beneficial reuse is a key tenet of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund program under which the site was remediated. The Weldon Spring Site has been transformed from a contaminated World War II explosives manufacturing plant and Cold War Era uranium processing facility to an educational and recreational site. It is truly an amazing transformation and a tremendous asset to the community.”
The Weldon Spring Site played a pivotal role in U.S. weapons development in World War II and the Cold War. The 228-acre site located 30 miles west of St. Louis, Missouri, was remediated and revitalized for beneficial reuse as a community educational center, restored native prairie, and recreational site.
The Weldon Spring Site Interpretive Center is an outstanding example of reuse for community benefit, featuring an exhibit hall that informs and educates the public on the historical legacy of the site as well as LM’s ongoing work as stewards and protectors of public health and the environment.
Since opening in 2001, the Interpretive Center has served more than 346,000 visitors, program attendees, meeting room users, and event attendees. Interpretive Center staff engage with students throughout the school year, providing innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) educational programs.
As an additional service to the community, meeting room space is made available to groups, including: naturalists, hobbyists, crafters, special interest and civic groups, trail users and many others.
Located outside of the Interpretive Center is Howell Prairie, the site’s highly diverse 150-acre restored native prairie and on-site native plant garden, both of which serve as ideal habitats for various types of wildlife and pollinator species and more than 200 species of native plants. Visitors to the site can learn about regional plants and animals, climb the stairs to the top of the disposal cell and enjoy a 360-degree view, and take advantage of the hiking and biking trail system, including a remediation-era haul road repurposed into the 6-mile Hamburg Trail.
The site’s favorable position in the center of two large conservation areas showcases the importance of creating and maintaining recreational and ecologically rich greenspaces in proximity to major metropolitan areas.
The Weldon Spring Site is an excellent example of LM’s service to the community and commitment to environmental stewardship. The site will become an even greater asset with the construction of a new, state-of-the-art Interpretive Center and administrative office space scheduled to open in 2021.