Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The City of Anniston is located in northeastern Alabama. It is about 50 miles east of Birmingham. The Anniston PCB site is located in and around Anniston, and parts of Calhoun and Talledega County. The Anniston site includes commercial, industrial and residential properties and downstream waterways and floodplains. Solutia’s Anniston plant is the main focus of this site. The plant has about 70 acres of land and is located about one mile west of downtown Anniston. The Norfolk Southern and Erie railroads border the plant to the north. Clydesdale Avenue borders the plant to the east, and First Avenue to the west. U.S. Highway 202 is located south of the plant.

  • Site investigations show that the former Monsanto Corporation's PCB manufacturing plant released the vast majority of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the area. The plant produced PCBs from 1929 until 1971. Today, the Solutia plant produces polyphenol compounds and phosphate ester-­based hydraulic fluids. The plantis fenced, secured and access is restricted.
  • While operational, the plant disposed of hazardous and non­hazardous waste in several areas, including the West End and South Landfills that are adjacent to the plant. The Monsanto Corporation discharged a wastewater stream containing PCBs into a ditchwhich flowed into Snow Creek and Choccolocco Creek.
  • EPA has not listed this site on its NPL (National Priorities List), but EPA does consider it to be an NPL­ site. Therefore, it is being addressed through the Superfund Alternative Approach ). The Superfund Alternative Approach uses the same process and cleanup standards that used for sites listed on the NPL.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Site investigations have identified PCB contamination in soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater, and air in and around Anniston, Oxford, Hobson City, and parts of Calhoun and Talladega Counties, Alabama. Contamination resulted primarily from manufacturing and waste handling practices at the former PCB production facility. Contaminants of concern include PCBs and a number of other organic and inorganic substances, depending on the media.

A number of interim actions have been taken to prevent citizens from coming into contact with contaminated soil, while the full extent of contamination is under investigation. The potentially responsible parties (PRPs) worked with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the EPA, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to educate the public and reduce exposures.

  • EPA and the site’s PRPs have sampled soils on properties in and around Anniston for PCBs since 1999 as part of a Superfund investigation. Sampling has indicated that sediments in drainage ditches leading away from the plant, Snow Creek and Choccolocco Creek, as well as sedimentary material in the floodplains of these waterways, contain varying levels of PCBs and other contaminants.
  • The EPA required removal actions (short-term cleanups) on residential properties, churches, schools, and other properties with playgrounds. The EPA required the PRPs to complete investigations and studies that will be used to determine what additional actions are needed to protect human health and the environment. The studies for the Solutia Anniston Plant (Operable Unit 3, OU-3) have been completed, and actions are complete or underway to control releases and protect workers at the Anniston Plant. The studies for residential and non-residential properties around the Anniston Plant (OU-1/OU-2) have been completed, and the the actions needed to control releases and protect residents and workers have been selected in a Record of Decision. The studies for Choccolocco Creek and it's floodplain downstream of the Anniston Plant (OU-4) are still underway.
  • A “no consumption” fish advisory   has been issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health for Choccolocco Creek. Similarly, if fish are found in Snow Creek, they should not be consumed. Eating contaminated food products, especially fish, is the most important pathway of PCB exposure in people who have not been exposed to PCBs at work. Exposures by way of inhalation and contact with the skin generally contribute less to exposure than eating contaminated food.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Environmental cleanup work at the Site has been divided into four parts, or operable units (OU). Early removal actions were taken in OU-1, which targeted residential properties. The purpose of the early removal actions was to prevent continued residential exposure to PCBs above the protective health based action level. OU-2 includes the non-residential properties along Snow Creek and its floodplain. OU-3 includes the Solutia Anniston plant and the two adjacent landfills, where an interim record of decision was signed on September 2011, and remedial actions will be complete in 2018. OU-4 includes Choccolocco Creek and its floodplain, where an ecological risk assessment is complete., A remedial investigation report will be complete in 2019,  and a feasibility study report will be complete in 2020.

Record of Decision for Operable Unit 1 (OU-1, residential) and Operable Unit 2 (OU-2, nonresidential)

The Record of Decision presents the EPA’s selected cleanup alternatives, which reduce risk to human health and the environment to acceptable levels by:

  1. Completing the residential property cleanup and managing subsurface contamination as needed;
  2. Completing the cleanup of low activity areas on church, school, and park properties and managing subsurface contamination as needed;
  3. Excavating soils that were not included in previous interim measures;
  4. Removing dredged soil piles along the bank of Snow Creek;
  5. Capping two auto fluff disposal areas;
  6. Excavating soils that create risk in other non-residential, commercial/industrial areas;
  7. Excavating soils that are impacting groundwater near the 11th street ditch and Snow Creek, then capping the areas and extracting the contaminated groundwater; and
  8. Excavation of contaminated sediments in Snow Creek and stabilization of the creek banks.

The selected remedies include off-site disposal of soils and sediments, as well as discharge of treated groundwater into Snow Creek. These remedies will cost approximately $ 36.6 million and take several years to complete.

The Record of Decision (ROD) describes other alternatives considered and the criteria EPA used to compare the alternatives, including the cost estimates and construction timelines

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Enforcement Information

Enforcing environmental laws is a central part of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. When warranted, EPA will take civil or criminal enforcement action against violators of environmental laws.

In 2000, Solutia entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) (a legal agreement) with EPA to sample residential properties in west Anniston for PCB contamination. Under the order, Solutia was required to clean up any property with PCB levels that could cause short­term health concerns. In 2001, EPA and Solutia entered into a revised AOC that expanded the cleanup to soils being moved at Quintard Mall and Oxford Lake Park.

In 2002, EPA and Solutia completed negotiations for performing an RI/FS. The negotiations were finalized in a Partial Consent Decree (CD) rather than an AOC, to provide judicial oversight of the process and address community trust issues. A CD is a legal document signed by a judge formalizing an agreement. The Partial CD was lodged in federal court in 2002 and was made available for public comment. The Partial CD was revised based on public comment and was entered by the federal court in 2003. A follow­up “Stipulation and Agreement” was also entered into federal court to resolve certain issues between the parties under the Partial CD in 2006.

In 2012, EPA and the PRPs entered into a Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) CD to implement the Interim Record of Decision (IROD) for OU-3 (the Anniston plant). The agreement was entered by the Court on April 17, 2013. The IROD required installation of a new, RCRA Subtitle C-compliant cap over the Cells 1E, 2E, and 3E of the South Landfill, additional caps at the facility to prevent infiltration and direct contact with PCBs in soils, expansion of the existing groundwater treatment system, and institutional controls. Construction is complete in 2018.

EPA is currently negotiating another CD to perform the work required in the record of decision for OU-1/OU-2.

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