Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:


Cleanup Activities

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The Wrigley Charcoal Plant site is located in Wrigley, Tennessee. It includes seven distinct areas affected by various industrial activities. EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989 because of contaminated debris, groundwater and soil resulting from facility operations. EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. From 2009 to 2011, EPA undertook a range of additional sampling activities at the site. In December 2013, a catastrophic fire occurred, destroying several buildings on the Primary Site.  An interim action was conducted in 2015 to address asbestos contamination resulting from the fire.  In 2015 and 2016, EPA plans to conduct additional sampling to investigate newly identified contamination on the Primary Site.  Following the completion of these sampling activities, a revised cleanup plan that will modify the 2003 site Record of Decision will be proposed.  The fourth Five-Year Review will be completed September 2015.  By investigating the site, conducting cleanup activities and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA and TDEC continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?


EPA leads the site investigation and cleanup activities in cooperation with TDEC.

EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989 because of contaminated debris, ground water and soil resulting from facility operations.

In 1988, EPA declared the site an “imminent and substantial danger,” and conducted a response action to stabilize tar pits and prevent a major release to the North Fork of Mill Creek. In 1993, the state authorized the relocation of the downstream Bon Aqua-Lyles Water District primary water intake. From 1993 to 1995, EPA and TDEC undertook cleanup activities required in the 1991 interim ROD to address contamination at the Primary Site and Storage Basin.

In 2007, EPA began additional monitoring in the deep aquifer beneath the site by installing four
new deep monitoring wells. EPA also began collecting additional soil, waste, surface water and groundwater samples.

In February 2010, EPA installed more groundwater monitoring wells at the Primary Site. In May 2010, EPA and TDEC assessed flood damage following a flood in May 2010 and did more surface water and sediment sampling. In August 2010, EPA installed seven new groundwater monitoring wells downgradient from the Primary Site. In September 2010, EPA collected groundwater samples from all wells at the site. EPA also collected surface water and sediment samples. In October 2010, EPA and TDEC collected soil samples as part of a removal assessment.  EPA continues to sample residential wells downgradient from the site.  In 2015, EPA removed asbestos contamination located on the Primary Site.


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What Is the Current Site Status?

Site investigations and cleanup activities have focused on two areas, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. These areas include OU-0: sitewide contamination; and OU-1: imminent contamination at the Primary Site.

In 1991, EPA issued an interim cleanup plan (an interim Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included digging up wastes, wood tar and burn pit contamination, treating the dug-up material off site, disposing of the treated material at an off-site facility, placing fencing around the Storage Basin, and repairing the spillway. EPA updated the remedy in 1995, removing on-site storage of consolidated wastes from cleanup activities and adding activities to restrict site access. A 1997 remedy update addressed wood-tar hot spots that investigators found at the Primary Site.

In 2003, EPA issued the cleanup plan (a ROD) for OU-0. It included digging up tar wastes and contaminated soil at the Primary Site and from a limited area between Oak Hill Road and the North Fork of Mill Creek and disposing of the materials off site; treating contaminated groundwater on site using living organisms to break down contamination; placing institutional controls on the site property to prohibit use of groundwater; and connecting downgradient residences to the public water supply.
While preparing to carry out the cleanup activities required in 2003 ROD, EPA identified several more contaminated areas. As a result, EPA undertook more site investigation work.

From 2009 to 2011, EPA completed a focused remedial investigation, including a private well survey and sampling of soil and sediment in Clark Hollow. EPA is currently preparing the site’s feasibility study. After completing the study, EPA will issue a proposed plan to amend the 2003 ROD. After receiving input from TDEC and the community, EPA will issue the amended plan (a ROD Amendment).

EPA will assess vapor intrusion, whether residents or workers might be at risk from harmful ground water vapors in buildings, as part of site cleanup activities. EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2010 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2015.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

The site is located northwest of Highway 100, west of Wrigley, in Hickman County, Tennessee, about 45 miles southwest of Nashville. The site includes the 35-acre Primary Site and the following six locations: The 2.5-acre Storage Basin, located 1,400 feet southwest of the Primary Site; the 40-acre Irrigation Field, located 3,500 feet northeast of the Primary Site; the 3.5-acre Athletic Field, located 800 feet southeast of the Primary Site; the 10-acre Groomed Pile, located southwest of the Primary Site; the 215-acre Northern Rail Yard, located north of the Primary Site; the 24-acre Clark Hollow, located 1,300 feet southwest of the Primary Site. The north Fork of Mill Creek divides the Primary Site into northern and southern portions. Lands uses in the area include farms and residential areas. Residential areas include low-income and minority residents. From 1880 until 1966, various industrial operations, including iron, charcoal and wood distillation product manufacturing took place at the Primary Site. Operations at the Primary Site involved wood alcohol, pig iron, tar, coke, charcoal, acetic acid, wood oils and pitch. From 1938 until 1950, operators stored slag and soil from the Primary Site at the Athletic Field in a large ravine. Operations also disposed of waste from the Primary Site in the North Fork of Mill Creek until the mid-1940s. In the mid-1940s, operators constructed wastewater impoundments to deal with waste streams. The impoundments resulted in spills at the Storage Basin and Irrigation Field areas. In 1978, the Tennessee Farmers Cooperative bought the site property and began leasing a portion to the Pinewood Manufacturing Company (known as R. T. Rivers) for metals machining, storage of waste products obtained from other local industries and recovery operations of copper from transformers. Industrial Plastics Recycling operated a small-scale recycling facility at the site, conducting metals and plastics recycling, storage of waste products, and other related activities on the southern portion of the Primary Site until 2013.  The remainder of the Primary Site is not in use. The Hickman County Parks and Recreation Department owns the Athletic Field. Parties regraded and vegetated the Storage Basin and Irrigation Field. These areas are not in use. Clark Hollow is the location of a residential community.

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Sampling and Monitoring

EPA will assess vapor intrusion, whether residents or workers might be at risk from harmful ground water vapors in buildings, as part of site cleanup activities.

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Enforcement Information

TDEC has issued several notices to the recycling facility currently operating on the Primary Site. The EPA established a special account funded in part by site PRPs to fund site investigation activities.

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