Craig Wolf • Poughkeepsie Journal
January 30, 2011
Glenham – A local college student is playing an important role this summer in assisting with the detection and environmental clean up of property at former Texaco Research Center in Beacon.
Kim Hayden will be a junior this fall at the The State University of New York (SUNY) School of Environmental Science and Forestry, SUNY E.S.F. in Syracuse, affiliated with Syracuse University.
The Ketcham High School graduate is involved in hands-on work on the 150-acre campus that employed up to 1,300 people at one time involving petroleum products research. The Texaco Research Center at one time was the second largest employer in Dutchess County, behind IBM.
Kim is working for Parsons, the company contracted by Chevron-Texaco, doing the environmental analysis and remediation on the property. Chevron merged with Texaco in 2002 and by 2003, the Glenham site became inactive, because Chevron has research facilities in California. Parsons has done environmental investigations for other Chevron sites.
Texaco purchased the research property in Glenham in 1931 and conducted research until 2003 when the operation closed down.
Research included gasolines, oils, lubricants, blending or fuels for the Havoline Racing Team on the NASCAR circuit, specialty products for the U.S. military and other work.
The environmental remediation includes soil, groundwater, and removing most of the 63 buildings on the campus. About 45 buildings will be demolished and the remainder will be left intact.
The two-phase “green” demolition will include recycling the building materials recovered from the structures to minimize the waste that is taken off the site. The process involves dismantling the buildings to ground level and then doing environmental samples under the buildings to check the soils for potential contamination.
Currently, there are five impacted areas on the campus involving soil or groundwater. Some remediation work was done in the 1980’s and the 1990’s by Texaco when the facility was active. Chevron accelerated the process after purchasing the parcel. The process could take many more years to complete. Chevron’s goal is to restore the site and sell the property, but the future of the landscape remains unknown.
Kim is currently working with several people this summer, including Craig Butler, P.E. LEED AP, Senior Project Manager for Parsons at the former Texaco property. He’s been working as a contractor doing environmental projects for Texaco and Chevron since 1993.
She’s also working with Monica Heavy, an environmental consultant for Chevron, who worked 18 years for Texaco; Mike Lawler, the site coordinator who works with the contractors, is working with Kim. Lawler had been employed 42 years at the facility, including 34 years with Texaco and the last seven with Chevron. The other person working with Kim is Mark Hendrickson, the Chevron Project Manager for the ongoing environmental projects at the site. He worked for Texaco for over 10 years as part of Texaco’s corporate environmental group and was transferred to Houston following the Chevron-Texaco merger.
Kim’s dad, Tom Hayden, a former engineer with the Texaco research facility, took part in a retiree’s tour of the campus back in April, He met Butler at the site during the tour and informed Butler that his daughter was an engineering student. ”We struck up conversation during the retiree’s tour and he (Tom) mentioned that his daughter was a student at SUNY E.S.F. in Syracuse and doing environmental studies to become an environmental engineer,” said Butler. The discussion then focused on whether or not the company had any openings for the summer and Butler asked Kim to come in for an interview. It turned out to be a perfect match. “We brought her on for the summer,” said Butler. She started in early June and will finish at the end of August.
“Everything I’ve done in my internship so far has been the direct application of my education,” said Kim. “Which is refreshing to see it applied. It’s hard to see how engineering courses are useful, but this (internship) was really interesting to me and I appreciate this internship very much.”
Some of Kim’s duties include helping with the “monitoring of the groundwater and the soil borings.” She works with engineers, geologists and consultants on the property. She said working with different people on the project has been invaluable. “Seeing how all the different roles can interact with each other.”
Heavey started her engineering career at Texaco as an intern and is proud to be a “mentor” for Kim during her current internship program. Heavey worked with Kim’s dad doing “some of the fuels research” at Texaco.
“It’s been great having Kim here,” said Heavey. “It’s nice to see someone who’s excited about entering the engineering field.”
“Nice to have part of the Texaco family (Kim) working here,” said Lawler. He’s glad that Kim was hired for the summer to help in the transition of the research facility. “A great place to work,” added Lawler.
Kim usually spends half of each day outside in the field doing soil and water sampling, or helping in the process of installing monitoring wells for groundwater evaluation.
She’s also hard at work at the computer in the office, organizing and working with files for the site. “Collecting data from where Texaco started monitoring the groundwater wells and compiling the concentration of the contaminants and plotting it as a trend. “They’ve all decreased,” she said with a smile.
Kim’s role as an intern was much more significant than she anticipated when she started her position with Parsons. “I’m way more involved than I thought I would be, which is awesome,” she said. “I feel like a lot of internships are just kind of boring paperwork, but this is so hands-on applicable, interesting and really fun.”
Last summer, Kim was doing something completely different, working as a tutor helping students with English as a second language. “This is much different,” she said with a laugh. “I like it a lot.”
You might say her interest in studying to become an engineer was influenced by family members. “Almost everyone in my family has worked at Texaco at some point,” she said. Her dad worked for the company for 23 years. Her mom Kathy, was a lab technician for about 10 years and her brother, Keith, worked summers at the facility. Her aunt and grandfather also worked at Texaco Research Center.
“Everyone keeps asking, ‘What’s becoming of the Texaco site?’ They’re all very interested,” she said.
Kim didn’t realize until she started the internship, of the extensive monitoring that is done of the soil and the groundwater, plus the various regulations required by state and federal governments.
“There’s a whole new vocabulary in this field that I was completely clueless (about) during the first couple of weeks that I first started working here. That was a big adjustment, but now I pretty much have an understanding when people are talking.”
She said her role was helpful in learning about communication between all levels of employees. “Which is important to how the whole system functions. I don’t think that’ something you get out of a typical engineering curriculum. I think having that experience is useful.”
This fall Kim is taking a Geo-Technical Engineering course and she said her internship this summer has prepared her with a “sneak preview” of what the subject matter is about.
If the internship is available next year, Kim is more than eager to return to work for Parsons. She thanked Parsons for the opportunity and the experience. “Yes, I would love that,” she added. “That would be great.”
All of the work must be done under the eye of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Chevron has started forming a local community advisory panel, according to Stan Luckoski, a spokesman for the company. The members are a cross section of people from the Fishkill area.
“The purpose of the group is to understand issues and concerns people may have about the site and encourage communication between Chevron and the community,” and it will meet again in March, he said.
Deborah Davidovits, who lives near the site and is a member of the Friends of Glenham group, said she has two concerns. One is about the present activity, the cleanup, and “whether they are going to do it in a way that’s safe and considerate.” The other is for the long term reuse of the land, “where we want to have a lot of input on what’s going to be built on the site.”
She favors the park idea for the old recreation area.
“The whole town, the entire region, is quite concerned as to its future,” said Willa Skinner, a Fishkill resident who is the town historian.
While the future of the site is far from clear, its history remains an example of the rise and fall of industry in business cycles.
It was the geography of the area that led to its commercialization, Skinner said. The Fishkill Creek borders the site and had a natural waterfall. When a dam was built, water power was handy and the flat plain bordering the creek offered space for building mills.
“Glenham did have a heyday with the start of the Industrial Revolution,” Skinner said. “The mills attracted hundreds of workers and immigrant laborers.”
The Glenham Woollen Mill was started in 1823.
“It was the biggest source of employment in the town during the Civil War,” she said. The factory made indigo blue wool cloth that went into the making of the uniforms worn by Union soldiers.
The mills lasted until the Panic of 1873 swept the nation , part of a global depression, and the mills failed.
A few years later, A.T. Stewart, who owned an emporium in New York that later became Wanamaker’s, bought the mill property at auction and restarted the woollens business. He also began a carpet mill downstream in Groveville, now part of Beacon. Stewart died, and his heirs continued the business through 1890, when it failed again, Skinner said.
The buildings fell into decay and the site was quiet until The Texas Co. came to town and bought it in 1931. The company, born out of the discovery of oil gushers in Texas in 1901, eventually moved its headquarters to New York and set up a research center in Glenham.
The company later became known as Texaco. The Glenham labs at one time had as many as 1,100 employees, Skinner said.
The 1990s brought a period of shrinkage. Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. The site closed in 2003.
Chevron maintans a website with further information at www.glenhammills.com.
Reach Craig Wolf at email@example.com or 845-437-4815.