Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

KERR-MCGEE CHEMICAL CORP - COLUMBUS
COLUMBUS, MS

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Columbus site is located in Columbus, Mississippi. The 90-acre site is located at 300 North 14th Avenue in Columbus, Mississippi, east of the intersection of North 14th Avenue and North 21st Street. The site boundary includes the former chemical manufacturing facility; in the future, EPA may expand the boundary to include residential properties. Businesses and neighborhoods, which include low-income and minority residents, surround the site. Schools and daycare facilities are also located nearby.

This site includes the area where Kerr-McGee Chemical and its successor, Tronox Incorporated (Tronox), operated a chemical manufacturing facility from 1928 to 2003. While it operated, Kerr-McGee made pressure-treated railroad products such as wooden cross ties, switch ties and timbers. Operators used creosote and creosote coal tar solutions to make pressure-treated wood products. Operators also used pentachlorophenol (PCP) for wood treating from the 1950s until the mid-1970s.

EPA put the site on the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 2011 because of contaminated groundwater, sediment and soil caused by facility operations. EPA and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect the public and the environment from contamination.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

  • EPA leads site investigation and cleanup activities with MDEQ.
  • Kerr-McGee and Tronox conducted many closure activities under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action program and State oversight.
    • Each dug up contaminated material in the surface impoundment and replaced it with clean soil.
    • They also removed contaminated soil from a drainage ditch.
    • A groundwater pump-and-treat system has operated on site under RCRA authority since 1990.
  • EPA conducted three rounds of soil sampling in 2010 and 2011. Based on the results:
    • Dug up and disposed of 278 tons of contaminated soil and then restored the areas.
    • Erected a fence to stop access to a possibly contaminated part of a drainage ditch.
  • EPA completed these removal activities in May 2011. EPA is conducting the site’s RI/FS, after which the Agency will issue a proposed cleanup plan.
  • EPA expedited sampling activities in and around the 14th Avenue Ditch based on a request from city officials and the Memphis Town Community Advisory Group (CAG). In November 2014, the remediation and road widening project began.  Working under a Superfund decision issued by EPA, the Multistate Trust first excavated the new ditch and placed a clean soil buffer so the City’s contractors could construct the new concrete drainage ditch without coming into contact with the contaminants from the Site. The Ditch Improvement Project and Road Widening Project was completed in July 2015 and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held to recognize key members and the community on the success of this project.
  • Remediation and construction activities on 7th Avenue, from Waterworks to Probst Park were complete in January 2017.
  • The Multistate Trust continues to operate the on-site groundwater recovery and treatment plant to keep contaminated groundwater from moving off site. They have retained J5 Global, a local, minority-owned contractor to perform this work, as well as sampling and other environmental actions as needed. Earthcon/J5 partnership has exceeded expectations and may become a new model for realizing shared environmental and economic goals in an underserved EJ community.
  • Preparations are being made to perform additional sampling and analyses to complete characterization of the former Kerr-McGee site, as well as private properties and ditches off-site. The field work is currently scheduled to be completed in 2016. Investigation plans have been updated to include information obtained from former Kerr-McGee employees and local residents.
  • After completing the remedial investigation/feasibility study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan.
  • All of the remedial investigation and remedial action activites have been funded through the settlement funds that is being managed by the Multistate Trust and are consistent with the environmental activities defined in the settlement agreement.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Investigation and Cleanup

  • The site-wide RI is ongoing. A ROD for OU1 which will address pine yard, storm water ditch system and possibly the neighborhoods north of 14th Avenue is expected to be signed by September 2017.
  • Remediation/construction activities on a portion of the 14th Avenue Ditch are complete.
  • Remediation/construction activities on 7th Avenue, from Waterworks to Probst Park are complete.
  • Expedite RI/FS process to achieve effective cleanup of the Site in a timely manner.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

Since July 2003, when facility operations ended, Kerr-McGee and Tronox, removed all tanks, equipment and process buildings. A small office and maintenance building housing groundwater treatmnt equipment remain on site. A fence surrounding the site restricts access.

EPA conducted a removal action 2010-2011to remove contaminated soils from Hunt Intermediate School, Maranatha Faith Center and a nearby residential property on Moss Street. EPA listed the site on the NPL in 2011.

EPA is leading an investigation to find all site-related risks to people and the environment. Most residents and businesses nearby use the public water system for drinking water. As part of its investigation, EPA plans to study residential and business locales to make sure no one is drinking contaminated water. EPA has also taken several steps to keep the community informed and involved in site-related activities.

 

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Sampling and Monitoring

As a result of continued concerns expressed about the quality of drinking water from residents near the Site, EPA, along with the Multistate Trust, is planning to collect tap water samples from several properties near the Site to determine if Site related contaminants are impacting drinking water. EPA is coordinating these sampling efforts with homewoners, Mississippi Bureau of Public Drinking Water Supply, Columbus Light and Water and the local health department. Based on results of the sampling, any necessary actions will be taken by the appropriate parties to ensure protection of human health and the enviroment.

As a part of a removal site evaluation, EPA led three rounds of soil sampling in 2010 and 2011. Based on the soil sampling results, EPA dug up and disposed of 278 tons of contaminated soil, and then restored the areas. EPA is in the process of sampling soil, sediment, and groundwater on the former manufacturing facility, ditches near the former manufacturing facility that may have been a migration pathway and some residential properties that could have been impacted by the site as a part of the remedial investigation/feasibility study. Remediation/construcion activities on a portion of the 14th Avenue Ditch were complete in July 2015. Remediation/construction activities on 7th Avenue, from Waterworks to Probst Park were complete in January 2017. After completing the remedial investigation/feasibility study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan.

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Emergency Response and Removal

EPA conducted short-term cleanup actions in 2010 to remove highly contaminated soils from Hunt Intermediate School, Miranantha Faith Center and a nearby residential property on Moss Street.

From February 2011 to May 2011 the EPA conducted removal actions at three properties near the Site.

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Enforcement Information

In 2011, as part of a bankruptcy settlement, Tronox transferred ownership of the site to a Multistate Environmental Response Trust. The Trust was created in the settlement to take ownership of this and other Tronox properties. The Trustee, The Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC, is funding the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study.

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