Ten years ago SARAA embarked on a journey to demolish the old, abandoned Crawford Station building located in Middletown Borough at the east end of the Harrisburg International Airport. Built by the Metropolitan Edison Company, in its good old days, Crawford Station was part of a national trend of “superpower” boasting an electrical generation network capacity from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Boonton New Jersey on the east. The largest cities served by the network included York, Harrisburg, Reading, and Easton. The plant was equipped with bigger than life coal pulverizers for fuel, furnaces, turbo-generators and boilers. Crawford Station was the first large-scale power plant in the United States to use pulverized coal for fuel. The plant converted to oil in the 1970s to meet tougher air pollution standards. The plant was constructed of a steel-frame with reinforced concrete foundations, brick walls, and limestone trim. In 1977, the Crawford Station power plant shut down when Three Mile Island station came into service. In 1999, SARAA bought the property through a real estate tax transaction for the purposes of cleaning up the property and turning it into aeronautical related uses such as hangars, aircraft parking, and maintenance.
Today, the site is nothing more than a field of grass in remembrance of the nostalgic Crawford Station power plant building. This did not come without its challenges when it came to the environmental cleanup and social responsibility to keep intruders out of the building. For many years, Crawford Station was a haven for the curious folk, with its looming, mysterious qualities the building seemed to beckon those to explore. Efforts of SARAA’s police force were used to patrol the site and keep the curious out of harm’s way. In 2001, SARAA conducted an environmental study to investigate the presence of asbestos containing building materials, lead based paint, contaminated soils, groundwater, fuel storage tanks, and polychlorinated biphenyls. In 2002, the coal-shaker building was abated of asbestos and demolished by Sabre Demolition. Three above ground storage tanks and one underground storage tank containing fuels, were emptied of their contents, removed and demolished. In 2004, asbestos building components were removed from the building, meeting the regulatory requirement to remove asbestos materials prior to demolition. Approximately 3700 cubic yards of asbestos was removed from the building. In 2008, SARAA contracted with Pittsburgh Demolition (PDI)to demolish the power plant building. PDI was able to salvage approximately 7,500 tons of scrap steel.