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The 102-acre Koppers Co., Inc. (Charleston Plant) Superfund site is located in Charleston, South Carolina, on the west side of a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Industrial, commercial and residential properties border the site to the north, south and east. Rosemont, a neighborhood with low-income and minority residents, is located just north of the site. The Macalloy Corporation Superfund site is located a half-mile north of the site.

The Site includes a 45-acre portion where the Koppers Company operated a wood treatment facility from 1940 to 1978. Operations included treating raw lumber and utility poles and using above ground storage tanks for wood preservatives. Following wood treating operations, the Koppers Company leased the area to several other companies, including Fed Serv, Pepper Industries and Braswell Shipyards, for facility operations.

The Koppers Company changed its name to Beazer East, Inc in 1990. The Koppers Company never owned the remaining 57 acres of the site located south of the wood treatment facility. Ashepoo Phosphate/Fertilizer Works owned the area and operated a phosphate and fertilizer production facility in this area from 1900 until 1978. After obtaining a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southern Dredging excavated a barge canal in 1984 that extended approximately 1,000 feet inward from the Ashley River. The EPA incorporated the 57 acres into the site’s boundaries to determine the environmental impact of previous dredging operations on the Ashley River and the neighboring tidal marsh.

In 2003, Ashley LLC purchased the site property parcels previously owned by Beazer East, Inc. Ashley LLC planned to redevelop the area as part of Magnolia, a 218-acre mixed-use project with residential, commercial retail and office/hotel space and parks. That effort stalled when the economic recession hit in 2009. The southern portion of the site is currently vacant.

EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994 because of contaminated groundwater, sediment, soil and surface water resulting from facility operations. Beazer East, Inc., the site’s Potentially Responsible Party (PRP), leads site investigation, cleanup and operation and maintenance activities, with oversight provided by EPA and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.Exit

Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. A water line connects residents and businesses to the public water supply. By treating and monitoring groundwater, placing institutional controls on the site property and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, SCDHEC and the site’s PRP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.



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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Beazer East, Inc., the site’s PRP, leads site investigation, cleanup and operation and maintenance activities, with oversight provided by EPA and SCDHEC.

In 1983, Pepper Industries began cleanup activities on the part of the site owned by the Koppers Company. Pepper Industries then declared bankruptcy and ceased all cleanup activities. Braswell Shipyards conducted cleanup activities at the property in 1987, including removing storage tanks and containers and arranging for proper disposal of the wastes. The Koppers Company funded half the expense of this cleanup operation.

In 1985, Fed Serv, the Koppers Company and several other parties began short-term cleanup activities at the former wood treatment facility’s tank farm area, disposing of material in the tanks, demolishing the tanks, and digging up and disposing of contaminated soils.

EPA issued an interim cleanup plan to address the spread of contaminants and eliminate chances that people could encounter site contamination.

From 1997 to 2003, Beazer East, Inc., the site’s PRP, conducted cleanup activities, digging up and disposing of 22,000 tons of contaminated soils, placing a 40-acre cap over contaminated soils, rebuilding 3,600 feet of drainage ditches, restoring tidal marshes and placing a 3-acre cap over Ashley River sediments.

EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD). It included digging up and disposing of contaminated soil off site, and placing a cap over contaminated soil on site. It also included rebuilding drainage ditches; placing an underwater cap in the barge canal; covering contaminated sediment with clean sediment in the Ashley River; cleaning up disturbed tidal marshes; and cleaning up groundwater contamination.


EPA updated cleanup plans for the Ashley River, placing an underwater cap over river sediments  modified the remedy in an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) in 2001

From 2003 to 2010, the PRP recovered creosote from groundwater beneath the site.

EPA issues a second ESD in 2003.

EPA completed the site’s third Five-Year Review (FYR) in 2013. It found additional information is needed to address the potential for vapors entering indoor air from the subsurface. The FYR estimated that it would take one year to complete these actions.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The most recent Five Year Review was published by EPA HQs in 2018. The remedy at the Site protects human health and the environment because contaminated soils and sediments have been excavated, treated, and/or stabilized/solidified.


EPA updated the remedy in a February 2018 ROD Amendment.

The most recent Five Year Review was published by EPA HQs in 2018. The remedy at the Site protects human health and the environment because contaminated soils and sediments have been excavated, treated, and/or stabilized/solidified.

The creosote and ground water recovery systems continue to operate at the site. Inspections and monitoring of the cap are ongoing. The remedial design for the ROD Amendment is complete and is currently under review.  Construction work is expected to start in early 2020.





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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.

The July 2003 property deed prohibits residential development and ground water use at parcels purchased by Ashley LLC.

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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.

The EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site PRP to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

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