Wednesday, July 4, 2012

White House Military Office Memorandum on “Cannonball” (Site 2)


                                                                                                                          31 May 1988
            MEM0RADUM FOR REC0RD

Sub:    Current information on abandoned Site 2 (Cannonball) at Cross Mountain in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

Encl:    (1) Plan View of site2 
            (2) Pictures of Site 2

1, The Special Purpose Office (SPO) initiated an investigation of site 2 ­to determine If the White House Military Office (WHMO) or the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Chesapeake Division(CHESHAVFACENGCOM) is responsible for the restoration  of this abandoned, and in particular, the removal of an abandoned fuel tank at the facility. To date, our findings are that neither WHMO nor CHESHAVFACENGCOM is responsible for the existing facilities or able to fund safety and environmental improvements to this abandoned facility. However, it is imperative that both safety and environmental improvements occur soon.

2. On April 4, 1988, Ken Morin (CHESHAVFACENGCOM) and John Maxwell (SPO) visited site 2 to determine the status of an 8,000 gallon fue1 tank shown on Disclosure 1. The site investigation determined that the fuel tank and the rest of the facility are abandoned and deteriorating. After visiting the facility, it is our opinion that the environmental problems associated with an abandoned fuel tank pale in comparison to the life-safety hazards associated with the abandoned 103 foot high tower.

3. Enclosure 1 is a copy of a site plan, with notes describing the existing conditions.   Enclosure 2 contains a number of photographs showing the current conditions. Below is a list of some of the environmental and safety hazards found at the site?

a. The tower is readily accessible to anyone that can get up the mountain and there are a number of signs which reveal that the tower has been visited by others.

For example:

1. Pictures 1 through 3 show that the plexiglas surrounding the top ring of the tower is almost completely broken off. This is not due to weathering or age, but rather is more likely due to vandalism from inside the tower.

2.   Pictures 4 through 5 shows that the ground level entrance door is missing. It is our understanding that the blast doors to such facilities were welded shut prior to abandonment. To remove such a door takes a great deal of effort.

3. Pictures 6 and 7 show the elevator shaft and the existing "stripped" condition within the facility. The wall finish insulation shown in Picture 6 is potentially asbestos material

4.  Pictures 8 and 9 show the opening in the floor leading to the basement.  Since there is no hatch here, this is a very hazardous situation for someone or something cou1d fall through this opening and be seriously injured. Note that the ladder, typical or ladders within the facility, is no longer attached to the wall.  Henry Keyser (the young man that got us in the gate at the bottom of the hill) said that he and some friend’s skate on the ice that forms in the basement during the winter.  Mr. Keyser also said that he climbs the tower regularly.

5.  Picture 10 shows graffiti written on the wall of the towers ground floor.

6.  While at the site, Mr. Morin and Mr. Maxwell climbed to the top of the tower using the access ladder, during the climb we found garbage, a rope to ease top floor access, a missing rung that had been replaced with a tightly pulled coat hanger and there is total darkness on floors four through seven. Additionally, the ladder going up the tower is deteriorating, and when on the top floor of the tower, one feels a “swaying” sensation.

b.  Pictures 11 through 15 are of the fill cap of an abandoned 2,500 gallon water tank.
                                                                                                                                           
c. Pictures 15 through 18 are of the old transformer and generator vaults. Pictures 17 and 18 shows that a lot of debris has been accumulated in these vaults over the years. This area should be investigated to make sure that no PCB’s were spilled when the potentially PCB filled transformers were removed. An open pit like this is a serious safety hazard.

d. Pictures 18 and 19 indicate that the 8,000 gallon fuel tank for the generator was abandoned in place.  This area should be checked for possible soil contamination and the tank should be removed.

e. For some reason, a number of trees in the cleared area are dead.

4.  As a minimum, the following short term steps should be taken:  (1) secure the tower by permanently closing the ground level entrance. (2) Test for fuel contamination in the soil around the fuel tank (3) test for PCB contamination in the old transformer vault, and (4) remove the abandoned fuel tank (note that abandoned fuel tanks are to be reported to the EPA on an annual basis by statute).  In the long run, the entire facility should be demolished and the site restored to natural conditions.  The questions that must be answered prior to the accomplishment of these recommendations are (1) Who presently owns and is responsible for the property and (2) whose and/or what funds are available for the clean up/restoration (this question is at least in part dependant upon who currently owns the property).  SPO has been trying to determine ownership over the last two months.

5.  There are (4) leases and (1) deed of easement associated with Site 2 and they are as follows:

a. USACE lease #DA-49-080-ENG-4645 between the US Army Corps of Engineers and Earl and Centha Brant.  From the description of the land leased, it is probably part of the roadway in Pennsylvania that leads to the tower. Our file contains an unsigned copy of the original lease dated 1 July 1959 and a signed original dated 11 August 1976.  The original lease states that for no reason would it extend beyond 30 June 1984.                  

b. USACE lease #DA-49-080-ENG-4368 between the Corp of Engineers and C.C. Glaser and Richard M Wolf.  From the description of the land leased it is probably part of the roadway in Pennsylvania leading to the tower. Our file contains an unsigned copy of the lease dated 22 July 1959 and a signed original of the cancellation of lease dated 11 August 1976.The original lease states that for no reason would it extend beyond 30 June 1984.

c. USACE lease #DA-49-080-ENG-4675 between the Corp of Engineers and J Randall and Hallie G. Mattern.  From the description of the land leased, it is probably part of the roadway in Pennsylvania that leads to the tower. Our file contains an unsigned copy of the lease dated 24 August 1959 and an unsigned copy of the cancellation of lease dated 11 August 1976.The original states that for no reason would it extend beyond 30 June 1984.

d. USACE lease #DA-49-080-ENG-4676 between the Corp of Engineers and Clifton M. and Cora M. Keefer.  From the description of the land leased, it is probably part of the roadway in Pennsylvania that leads to the tower. Our file contains a signed copy of the lease dated 24 August 1959 and an unsigned copy of the cancellation of lease dated 11 August 1976.The original states that for no reason would it extend beyond 30 June 1984.

e. USACE lease/deed of easement #DA-18-020-ENG-3736 between the Corp of Engineers and the Rattle Run Gun Club. The land leased is the roadway leading to the tower from Maryland.  Our file contains a signed copy of the signed deed dated 7 October 1965 and the DD 1354 where we transfer the property back to the Corp of Engineers.

f. USACE lease #DA-49-080-ENG-4675, supplemental agreement # 1, between the Corp of Engineers and J Randall and Hallie G. Mattern. The land leased under the supplemental agreement definitely contains the parcel of land that site 2 was constructed and portions of the roadway leading to the site.  In some of the documentation it is referred to as the “main site”.  Our file contains a copy of lease dated 26 February 1965.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

6.  From the incomplete documentation in our files, it appears that the Government believes that it has returned the property to the Mattern’s.  In a phone conservation on 27 May 1988 with Mr. Andrew Knapka of the Julian Post Office (work) ----------, (home) ----------), Mr. Maxwell found out that Mr. J. Randall Mattern died in 1970 and his wife Hallie died in 1976.  The chances are that the Mattern’s never knew that the property had been returned to them.

7.  Mr. Knapka also gave the following information:

a. When the government first leased the property from the Mattern’s there were other people with claims to the property.  The Mattern’s signed the lease because the government felt that they had the best claim to the land at the time.
b. Mr. Knapka indicated that he would share the information in his file on the land and the various claims to it.
c. The Mattern’s have a son, Lt. Col. Henry K Mattern, USA, Retired and living in Huntsville, Alabama.

8.  During our research of the facility, the following points of contacts have been established.  

a. Pete Digel (----------). Mr. Digel works for the Army Corp of Engineers real estate division and had been researching the property prior to SPO involvement; however, he had completed his investigation, concluding that present ownership appears to be vested in no identifiable individual(s). Mr. Digel has been informed of all our findings and will be provided with a copy of this memo.

b. Bill Piccirilli (----------).  Mr. Piccirilli is an engineer with the US Army Corp of Engineers.  His office is responsible for completing the Inventory Project Report (IPR) which determines if a project is eligible for funding under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program.  Mr. Piccirilli indicates that his office cannot conduct an IRP until ownership is established. If it is determined that the facility is the property of the US Government, the site clean up would not be eligible for funding under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program and Mr. Piccirilli’s office would not handle the contract.  Mr. Piccirilli work address is:

CENAB-EN-MNUS 
US Army engineer District, Baltimore
P.O. Box 1715
Baltimore, Md 21203-1715
                                                   
c. Bob More   Mr. More is the individual that will receive the IPR from Mr. Piccirilli’s office if completed.  Mr. More’s office does the paper work to get a particular project funded for design and construction under the Defense Environmental Restoration Program. Mr. More’s address is:

Commander Huntsville Division
US Army Corp of Engineers
CEMP-ED-PM
Attn: Bob More
P.O. Box 1600
Huntsville, Al. 35807-4301

d. Carol Robinson (home) -----------.  Ms. Robinson works at the AT&T facility at Hearthstone Mountain about 1 mile from site 2.  Ms. Robinson was very helpful in finding information about the Cross Mountain site.

e. Roderick Rohrer (work ----------; home ------------). Mr. Rohrer is president of the Rattle Run Hunting Club. He felt that it would not be a problem for us to use his road if we chose to do work at the site and that he will bring the issue up at the next meeting of the hunting club.

f. Mr. Atherton and son, Henry Keyser ------------.  Both live near the locked gate at the bottom of the mountain on the Pennsylvania side and have a key to the gate.  Henry Keyser took Mr. Morin and Mr. Maxwell to the site on April 4th.

9.  From the Available records on this site, SPO has been unable to determine ownership of the question property; however, the fact that is some individual(s) or sovereign (i.e. either the US Government or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) does possess legal title.  Regardless of the question of legal title, the fact remains that the US Government was responsible for the construction of a facility on this property and would appear to have some responsibility (moral, if not legal) for the various hazards associated with this abandoned facility.  Therefore as a minimum, the following actions should be undertaken:

a. As a temporary solution the US Government should have the tower entrance closed and secured.  SPO could assume this responsibility, using resources using resources available to us.

b. WHMO should encourage the Corp of Engineers to make this project a high priority and secure the necessary funding to demolish the abandoned facility and to restore the ground to natural conditions.   

                                      


                                                                                         
John C Maxwell III
Copy to:                                                                                                                        
1) Pete Digel, Real Estate Division, US Army Corp of Engineers
2) Bill Piccirilli, Baltimore District, Us Army Corp of Engineers  

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