Former creosote plant site estimated $19 million cleanup to get underway

By Joseph McCain The Winston County Journal

CORE Engineering and Construction Inc. of Florida will soon begin cleaning up the American Creosote Superfund Site in Louisville. The EPA superfund site located off Highway 15 at the intersection of South Railroad Avenue and Baremore Street has been under EPA and MDEQ supervision since 1985.

CORE won the bid in July of 2011 and has plans to start some of the initial work this week. The company has potential sub contracting and worker roles for those who are qualified.

Anyone interested in those jobs may contact the WIN job center or the Winston County Chamber for more information.

Louisville Mayor Will Hill noted he was glad to see the work getting underway.

“I am very proud this project will get underway soon,” said Hill.

Mayor Hill explained that in addition to providing some possible local employment that the project will bring funds to the community through the workers on site and the fuel and other items purchased. The project will also once completed will provide another great industrial site for the city to market to industries.

“This is a good for Winston County,” said Hill.

The cleanup according to the Army Corp of Engineers documents denotes that the project will create an encapsulated cell on 24 acres of the 120 acre site to seal in all the contaminates on the site and build a containment wall around the 24 acre cell to prevent any water or soil contamination in the future. Once the work is complete the full 120 acres would be available for use by industry.

According to Hill, once the cleanup is complete the city will receive the property from the EPA which it than can market to industries for sale or lease. The cleanup is being funded through 90 percent of federal monies and 10 percent of state funds.

Site history The American Creosote Works operated intermittently under several owners from 1912 until approximately 1997. The property is currently vacant and is owned by the State. The site is located in the City of Louisville divided into two areas by Baremore Street. The northern area encompasses approximately 50 acres, on which the majority of the former facility operations took place. Several of the old American Creosote Works (ACW) facility structures and equipment still remain on site, isolated on the northwest portion of the property, just east of a residential neighborhood. The lake is known to contain creosote waste. The southern area encompasses approximately 70 acres, including a wood chip pile area located in the southeast portion of the property. It has been reported that the ACW facility mixed waste creosote and sludge from the tanks and cylinders with wood chips and piled the waste in this area.

Hughes Creek runs approximately one-half mile across the Site (from the western boundary 150 yards north of Baremore Street to the southeastern corner where it passes beneath Church Avenue). There are also several drainage ditches which feed into Hughes Creek, as well as some wet weather tributaries. Hughes Creek flows south and ultimately discharges to Tallahaga Creek approximately 10 miles down gradient, which then leads into the Pearl River.

Until the 1980s, the facility utilized three unlined lagoons or ponds that received discharges of creosote waste. Over the years, the largest of these ponds leaked creosote over and through an earthen dike and into Hughes Creek. A site inspection conducted by the Mississippi Bureau of Pollution Control (MBPC) in 1984 concluded that the large surface impoundment dike was at imminent risk of failure which would cause a catastrophic spill of thousands of gallons of creosote sludge into Hughes Creek and subsequently into the Pearl River. MBPC notified EPA Region 4 who initiated an emergency response that transitioned into the first removal action on the Site. The removal action, conducted from 1984 to 1985, consisted of excavation and treatment of the material removed from this largest lagoon. Approximately 70,000 cubic yards of solidified/stabilized material was disposed in an on-site storage cell.

During another Site investigation conducted in 1999, the OSC observed creosote-containing waste water overflowing several process tanks and a tank farm containment wall; as well as creosote stained soils and creosote sheens on the surface water runoff flowing into Railroad Lake and Hughes Creek.

The EPA OSC determined that an emergency response was necessary to stop the overflow of creosote. The emergency response developed into a removal action in which 20 above ground storage tanks were decommissioned, 176,000 gallons of wastewater were treated, 192 tons of metals were recycled, 200 tons of hazardous debris and 60 tons of nonhazardous debris were disposed, and 4,000 cubic yards of solidified waste was encapsulated in an on-site containment cell.

The City of Louisville replaced the Baremore Street (2004) and South Church Street (2005) bridges over Hughes Creek. The disturbance of the sediments caused a release of creosote that led to a third emergency response at the Site in 2004 and a fourth in 2005.

The two emergency responses resulting from the bridge work included excavations within and immediately adjacent to Hughes Creek, which resulted in the generation of about 700-900 cubic yards of contaminated soil/sediment excavation spoils. The contaminated soil and sediment was stockpiled on top of the 1984-85 landfill capped area.

In 2007 the EPA wrapped up an emergency cleanup of Hughes Creek near the site. The emergency cleanup began on December 4, 2006 to address on-going release of creosote into Hughes Creek. EPA created a 964 linear feet containment wall to prevent any further release of creosote into the water. The emergency cleanup and containment that occurred between December of 2006 and May of 2007 cost an estimated $1,500,000.