Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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The Wright Chemical Corporation site is located in Riegelwood, North Carolina. The area is currently the location of a facility that manufactures hexamine, formaldehyde, organophospates and specialty chemicals. In the past, the facility operated an alum plant and was the site of former sulfuric acid manufacturing facilities and a former phosphate fertilizer manufacturing facility, which began operation in the 1880s. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 2011, because of contaminated groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment and aquatic biota resulting from facility operations. EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) have investigated site conditions. EPA recently entered an agreement with the responsible parties to conduct an investigation (Remedial Investigation) and evaluate cleanup options.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The 758-acre site is located next to Livingston Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River, approximately one mile southeast of Riegelwood in Columbus County, North Carolina. The site includes two properties: a 720-acre northern property and a 38-acre southern property. A railroad corridor separates the northern and southern properties. The northern property includes two manufacturing plants, several impoundment ponds, two spray irrigation fields, a waste pile, two former sulfuric acid plants and two unlined lagoons, which make up Wright Chemical Corporation’s 45-acre manufacturing facility. The southern property formerly included a phosphate fertilizer manufacturing operation. Currently, the southern property is vacant. Livingston Creek includes a wetland area and a fishery. Undeveloped forested land surrounds the site. Rural residential areas are located southeast and northwest of the site. The site’s broader surroundings include industrial and rural agricultural areas.

From the 1880s until the 1960s, Acme Manufacturing Company operated a sulfuric acid manufacturing facility on the northern property and a fertilizer manufacturing facility on the southern property. In 1959, Wright Chemical Corporation took over acid manufacturing operations on the northern property and constructed a second manufacturing building. In the 1960s, Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation took over fertilizer manufacturing operations on the southern property until the early 1980s. Acme Manufacturing Company became Wright Chemical Corporation in 1968 and became the owner of the site. Wright Chemical Corporation continued operation of the acid manufacturing facility until 1991. In 2004, Oak Bark Corporation purchased the site and sold portions of the site to several companies. Momentive Specialty Chemicals, Inc. currently owns and operates a chemical manufacturing facility on part of the site. Silar LLC also currently leases and operates a specialty chemical manufacturing facility and laboratory on part of the site.

  • EPA leads site investigation activities in cooperation with NCDENR.
  • EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL)in 2011 because of contaminated ground water, surface water, soil, sediment and aquatic biota resulting from facility operations.
  • In 1984, EPA conducted sampling and identified soil contamination at the site.
  • In the 1990s, Wright Chemical Corporation closed the on-site impoundment ponds and conducted a groundwater assessment in 1997.
  • From 2006 to 2008, NCDENR conducted site investigations to support the site’s listing on the NPL.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

EPA has reached an agreement with Oak Bark and Kock Sulfur Products to conduct additional studies at the site to understand the type, source and extent of contamination before issuing a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site.

  • EPA is currently undertaking additional studies and site investigations to understand the type, source and extent of contamination. EPA plans to work with the site’s PRPs to conduct the remedial investigation/feasibility study for the site and to perform cleanup activities. EPA began the first phase of data collection during the Fall of 2015. Phase 1 sampling under the RI/FS AOC was completed in 2016.
  • The Community Involvement Plan was updated in April 2018.
  • EPA is expecting the Proposed Plan and ROD to be completed FY2019.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

EPA uses institutional controls to reduce exposure to contamination by restricting access to contaminated areas. Institutional controls can also guide human behavior through legal mechanisms such as deed restrictions and public health warning signs.

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Sampling and Monitoring

EPA is currently undertaking additional studies and site investigations to understand the type, source and extent of contamination before issuing a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision or ROD) for the site.

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Enforcement Information

NCDENR negotiated with Wright Chemical Corporation to conduct cleanup activities in the 1980s and 1990s. EPA is conducting additional research and site investigation. The EPA plans to work with the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to conduct future investigation and cleanup activities.

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