The Borough of West Reading is giving residents a little more insight on what they can expect in the near future at the R.M. Palmer explosion site. The announcement was made Tuesday in parallel with the release of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary investigation report.
According to the Borough, the NTSB finished the on-site portion of the investigation on Friday, April 28. The federal investigation is still ongoing but will no longer require access to the site. The full investigation and release of a final report can take anywhere from 12-24 months.
Read about the NTSB preliminary findings here: NTSB preliminary report finds natural gas fueled fatal explosion in West Reading
Now that the investigation has shifted off-site, the Borough says there will be some changes at the site. Property owners are now working with the Fire Marshal, Code Department, and Police Department to ensure safety and clean-up of the structures affected, which includes the three buildings currently condemned, 200 Penn Avenue – C&S Supply, 5 S. 2nd Avenue, and 77 S. 2nd Avenue – R.M. Palmer Building #1, as well as 55 S. 2nd Avenue (former site of R.M. Palmer Building #2).
The Borough says the properties will soon be returned to the owners, who will be responsible for the remaining clean up efforts. Continued security on the affected block is expected as efforts continue.
Due to the ongoing clean up, the Borough says residents in the immediate area may continue to hear clean-up and construction efforts at the impacted properties and should be prepared for the potential of loud noises, dust, and debris.
South 2nd Avenue is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future to ensure the safety of residents and workers at the site. The Borough does not have a timeline for the eventual reopening, as it depends on the progress of the clean-up efforts.