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Anniston PCB Site

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Residential excavation work at Anniston PCB site

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: ALD000400123
Location: Anniston, Calhoun County, AL
Lat/Long: N 33 38' 13'' W 85 51' 17''
Congressional District: 03
NPL Status: Superfund Alternative Approach
Affected Media: Soil, Sediments, Surface water, Ground water
Cleanup Status: Soil cleanup (removal action) underway
Human Exposure Under Control: NA
Groundwater Migration Under Control: NA
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: NA
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Continued use – industrial, commercial and residential land uses are located on site
Site Manager: Pam Scully (scully.pam@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Anniston PCB site consists of the entire area in and around Anniston, Alabama, where polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have come to be located. The site is not listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) but is considered to be an NPL-caliber site and is being addressed through the Superfund Alternative Approach. EPA is overseeing the ongoing cleanup of commercial, industrial and residential properties as well as floodplain soils. Over 570 properties have been cleaned up, including residential areas and two schools. An additional 27 residential properties requiring cleanup have been identified. These actions have helped ensure that people living on these properties are not threatened by soil contamination in the short term. Indoor dust has also been cleaned up inside affected homes and one school. Solutia and Pharmacia, the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs), continue to investigate the area to identify how far contamination has spread and determine additional cleanup actions necessary to protect people from contamination. Residents in urban areas use public water supplies for drinking water, which have not been impacted. A “no consumption” fish advisory Exit EPA Disclaimer has been issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health for Choccolocco Creek. EPA and Solutia continue to make sure that residents and the environment are protected from site contamination through ongoing cleanup activities and site investigations.

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Site Location and Background

The City of Anniston is located in northeastern Alabama, approximately 50 miles east of Birmingham. The Anniston PCB site is located in and around Anniston and surrounding Calhoun County and includes commercial, industrial and residential properties and downstream waterways and floodplains. Solutia’s Anniston plant is located in the center of the site. The plant encompasses approximately 70 acres of land and is located about one mile west of downtown Anniston. The plant is bounded to the north by the Norfolk Southern and Erie railroads, to the east by Clydesdale Avenue, to the west by First Avenue, and to the south by U.S. Highway 202.

Site investigations indicate that the vast majority of the PCBs in the Anniston area were released from the operations of the former Monsanto Corporation’s PCB manufacturing plant. PCBs were produced at the plant from 1929 until 1971. Today the former PCB plant produces polyphenyl compounds and phosphate ester-based hydraulic fluids. The facility is fenced and secured and access is restricted.

During its operational history, the plant disposed of hazardous and non-hazardous waste in various areas, including the West End Landfill and the South Landfill, which are located adjacent to the plant. In addition, during the time that PCBs were manufactured by the Monsanto Corporation at its Anniston plant, a wastewater stream containing PCBs was discharged into a ditch which flowed into Snow Creek.

The site is not listed on the NPL, but is considered to be an NPL-caliber site and is being addressed through the Superfund Alternative Approach. This approach uses the same investigation and cleanup process and standards that are used for sites listed on the NPL.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in soil, sediments and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from manufacturing and waste handling practices at the site. Contaminants of concern identified include PCBs. Solutia is investigating whether additional cleanup actions will be needed.

A number of interim actions have been taken under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to prevent residents from coming into contact with contaminated soil, including removing contaminated soil to a safe disposal location and capping soils with asphalt or additional soil. EPA and the site’s PRPs have sampled soils on properties in and around Anniston for PCBs since 1999. Over 8,000 residential parcels have been sampled. Many of the properties tested contain high levels of PCBs. If samples identify high levels of PCBs on a residential property, the top foot of soil is removed and replaced with clean soil and grass. If PCB-contaminated soil is removed from a residential property, the interiors of homes are sampled to identify PCB levels in indoor dust. If high levels of PCBs are identified, the dust is cleaned up. EPA has not been granted access to all residential properties that may have high levels of PCBs in indoor dust; EPA continues to work with these property owners.

Sampling by EPA, PRPs, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and other parties 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. A “no consumption” fish advisory Exit EPA Disclaimer has been issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health for Choccolocco Creek. Similarly, fish from Snow Creek should not be consumed.

Residences in urban areas are connected to public water systems in Anniston or Oxford; these systems are not impacted by site contamination. A ground water pump-and-treat system operates at the Solutia plant. An investigation is underway to determine whether additional ground water cleanup actions are needed.

Children’s health issues are being directly addressed by the removal of contaminated soil and indoor dust on residential properties. Early in the project, EPA also required a removal action (a short-term cleanup) of a baseball field (Oxford Lake Park) because it was located in a floodplain.

In the 2000s, Jacksonville State University (JSU) was awarded a $3.2 million grant from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to study the health effects of PCB exposure on Anniston residents. JSU served as the community liaison for these research projects. Studies, which included an assessment of children’s health issues, were conducted under the direction of the Anniston Environmental Health Research Consortium, a group of experts located at over a dozen universities and research centers in the United States. A Community Advisory Committee also provided local input. In 2008, findings from these five studies were presented at a community meeting. Exit EPA Disclaimer

Site Modeling and Analysis

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

Site investigation and cleanup activities are being led by the PRPs, Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia Corporations, with oversight provided by EPA.

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Site Cleanup Plan

Solutia is conducting a non-time-critical (NTC) removal action on contaminated residential properties and a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) to determine additional cleanup actions needed to protect human health and the environment. The NTC removal action includes:

To better manage the RI/FS, site management activities have been divided into four areas, which are referenced by EPA as operable units, or OUs. These were selected based on geographic location and complexity. OU-1 and OU-2, which were previously separated, have been combined into a single OU. OU-1/OU-2 includes residential and non-residential properties around and near the plant and downstream, following Snow Creek to Highway 78. OU-3 includes the plant, the South Landfill and the West End Landfill. OU-4 includes Snow Creek and its floodplain downstream of Highway 78 to the meeting point of Snow and Choccolocco Creeks, and Choccolocco Creek from the backwater area upstream of Snow Creek to Lake Logan Martin. When the RI for OU-4 is completed, EPA will consider whether additional downstream investigations are needed.

View a map of four site OUs.

Interim Record of Decision - OU-3

More information on these OUs is available in the site documents and fact sheets referenced in this summary.

RI/FS activities for these OUs are continuing to determine additional actions needed to protect human health and the environment. These are discussed under “Cleanup Progress” below.

Site Investigations/Studies of Cleanup Alternatives

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Cleanup Progress

NTC removal action

Residential cleanup began under the NTC removal action in 2004. Approximately 570 properties were cleaned up by the end of 2010. An additional 27 properties requiring cleanup have been identified.

OU-1/2 RI/FS

Sampling has been completed for commercial and industrial areas. Residential areas were sampled as part of the NTC removal activities. EPA has completed a human health risk assessment. Ground water is currently being studied. The RI/FS is expected to be complete in 2012, with a projected Record of Decision, or ROD, for OU1/OU2 in 2013.

OU-3 RI/FS

The RI/FS was completed in 2010. The proposed plan for cleanup was issued in September 2010; a 60-day public comment period closed at the end of October 2010. EPA management is reviewing the plan and a ROD for OU-3 was finalized in September 2011.

OU-4 RI/FS

Phase I and Phase II sampling have been completed. A Phase III sampling plan has been developed to sample residential properties in the Choccolocco Creek floodplain and complete sampling for the nature and extent of contamination. Sediment testing is complete and the results should be available to the public in the fall of 2011. The RI/FS is not expected to be completed for OU-4 until 2015.

Related Cleanup Efforts

The Alabama Department of Transportation (ADOT) is replacing the Interstate 20 Bridge that extends across Snow Creek. EPA is assisting ADOT by overseeing soil removal in areas where ADOT is conducting pile driving for new bridge supports. EPA is also ensuring workers replacing the bridge are protected from site contamination.

In 2010 and 2011, the Anniston Public Works Department cleaned up portions of Snow Creek where debris had built up and was impacting the structural integrity of a bridge at Glen Addie and West 6th Street in Anniston. EPA assisted the department by removing contaminated soils along Snow Creek and properly disposing of it.

Cleanup Related Documents

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Enforcement Activities

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 short-term health concerns. In 2001, EPA and Solutia entered into a revised AOC that expanded the cleanup to soils being moved at Quitard 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 follow-up “Stipulation and Agreement” was also entered into federal court to resolve certain issues between the parties under the Partial CD.

Legal Documents

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Community Involvement

EPA is working with the community and its state partner to develop long-term cleanup plans for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. EPA cannot fulfill its mission without community engagement and public outreach as core components of the program’s activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the site to solicit community input and to ensure that the public remains informed about site activities throughout the site cleanup process. Outreach activities have included site fact sheets (listed below), public notices and information meetings on cleanup progress and activities.

A Community Advisory Group (CAG) was established to enhance opportunities for community involvement in decisions affecting the site. The CAG is formally known as the Anniston Community Advisory Group for the Consent Decree.Exit EPA Disclaimer

Through a Technical Assistance Plan Grant, a technical advisor is being funded to support community involvement in the review of site-related technical documents. The technical advisor is being provided through the West Anniston Foundation. The West Anniston Foundation Exit EPA Disclaimer periodically hosts PCB Cleanup Community Educational Forums to discuss issues related to the site.

Job Training

Beginning in 2005, job training programs have been supported through EPA environmental justice and brownfields grants to help local residents obtain employment in positions related to the site’s cleanup. A local cleanup contractor has hired residents trained through these programs.

Education Funding Provided by Partial CD

The Partial CD (see the “Enforcement Activities” section) included an agreement to establish a $3.2 million foundation to assist in funding special education needs for Anniston-area children and up to $150,000 for a qualified community group to hire a technical advisor. The Anniston Community Education Foundation Exit EPA Disclaimer was set up as a result; the money is used to provide scholarships and funds for local schools.

Fact Sheets

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Future Work

Residential cleanups to address PCB contamination are ongoing. Approximately 27 properties still need to be cleaned up.

A ROD for OU-1/OU-2 is expected in 2013.

A ROD for OU-3 is expected in late 2011.

A ROD for OU-4 is expected in 2015.

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Site Documents

Site Repository

For more information or to view any site-related documents, please visit the site information repository at the following location. As new documents are generated, they will be placed in the information repository for public information.

There are two information repositories for this site.

Anniston-Calhoun Library, Carver Branch
722 West 14th Street
Anniston, Alabama

Anniston-Calhoun Library, Main Branch
108 East 10th Street
Anniston, Alabama

For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

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