EPA open house updates community on cleanup of the EPA Superfund Site

From staff and press reports

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosted an open house on Thursday, July 11, at the Louisville Housing Authority Community Center to update the community on the progress of the cleanup of the American Creosote Superfund Site.

EPA site coordinator Micheal Arnett reviewed the numbers, timeline and plans for the site.

Arnett explained the work is ongoing at the 120 acre site with 34 percent of the work completed. The goal for completing the project is May 2015 when the city and county will receive the industrial park land for redevelopment.

The plan

The city and county should receive almost 100 acres of property with the rest of the property serving as a landfill for the contaminants.

Winston County Economic Development director Gerald Mills noted that conceptual plans are already underway how to use the site especially with its access to three railroad spurs.

“This is a real rail park and a great marketing tool when cleanup is completed,” said Mills.

“This will be a real asset to Winston County,” added Louisville Mayor Will Hill.

Mayor Hill noted with a cleaned up site adjoining the newly acquired Jake’s recycling property that the community will have some great opportunities for industrial development.

Kyle Bryant, EPA response support, explained that other agencies and funds were available to help get the site marketed and back into use as well as to help with other plans.

“EPA has made a major investment in cleanup and so we want to a wise use of that investment,” said Bryant. “The industrial opportunities and the growth of the economy can be done through planning.”

“Once this is completed it will add a lot of positive energy to the community,” added Mayor Hill.

Mills added that once the site is cleaned and returned to the city that it will be a very marketable site with the EPA seal of approval.

“The true payoff will be when the site is redeveloped for reuse,” said Arnett.

The work

The EPA superfund site is located off Highway 15 at the intersection of South Railroad Avenue and Baremore Street has been under EPA and MDEQ supervision since 1985. The Army Corp of Engineers bid out the project with CORE Engineering and Construction Inc. of Florida winning the bid in July of 2011.

Core along with its subcontractors have been working on the project since winter of 2011. The company bid $19,700,000 on the project and have received one adjustment on the project for a total of $20,076,000.

Arnett noted that while an out of state contractor did receive the bid that the company has worked with a local subcontractor and made a few local hires. Arnett added that the fuel expenses and other persons working in the community returned much of the funds for the project back into the community.

The cleanup 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.

The 24-acre landfill will remain under state ownership and EPA monitoring.

The cleanup has already removed much of the dirt over the area of the superfund site and have drained Railroad Lake and worked on cleaning several other areas.

To help in creating a barrier during the cleanup and to help give the 24 acre landfill a cushion the EPA purchased an additional 10 acres from private property owner near the site.

Funding

The cleanup is being funded through 90 percent of federal monies and 10 percent of state funds.

“The state of Mississippi was the linchpin in getting this done,” said Arnett who explained that the guarantee of a 10 percent match was essential to getting the projected approved and moving forward.

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.

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