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Ciba-Geigy Corporation (McIntosh Plant)


Buildings on Ciba-Geigy site.

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: ALD001221902
Location: McIntosh, Washington County, AL
Lat/Long: 31.279000, -087.995500
Congressional District: 01
NPL Status: Proposed: 09/08/83; Final: 09/21/84
Affected Media: Ground water, sediment, sludge, soil, surface water
Cleanup Status: Construction Complete – physical cleanup activities at site are complete
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: Yes
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In continued industrial use – a chemical production facility is located on site
Site Manager: Charles King (king.charlesl@epa.gov )

Current Site Status

The Ciba-Geigy Corporation (McIntosh Plant) site includes the area where Ciba-Geigy Corporation (now BASF Corporation) has operated a production facility since 1952. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1984 because of contaminated ground water, soil, sludge and sediment resulting from waste disposal practices. EPA, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not threaten people living and working near the site. Both residents and businesses use the public water supply for drinking water. By treating ground water, monitoring the site’s soil cleanup and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, ADEM and BASF Corporation, the site’s primary PRP, continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 1,500-acre site is located in an industrial area two miles northeast of McIntosh, Alabama. The active production facility is located on 1,100 acres. The remaining 400 acres at the site are undeveloped land in the floodplain of the Tombigbee River. The site’s surroundings include the Olin Corporation (McIntosh Plant) Superfund site to the south, the Tombigbee River to the southeast and undeveloped pine forest to the north. The nearest residences are a half-mile from the site.

The plant began production with the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in the eary 1950s. By 1970, the plant was also producing fluorescent brighteners used in laundry products, herbicides, insecticides and other agricultural and industrial products. Production later expanded to include resins and additives used by the plastics industry and specialty chemical products. During past operations, production was disposed of in several unlined pits and open landfills on the property. Prior to 1965, wastewater from the plant flowed into the Tombigbee River after chemicals were treated. The Tombigbee River and freshwater wetlands, which are subject to periodic flooding, are located near several former disposal areas. Ciba-Geigy Corporation stopped producing agricultural chemicals in 1999, and shut down herbicide and insecticide production in 2003. In 1984, EPA listed the site on the NPL.

The BASF Corporation currently owns the site property and continues to operate the facility.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in ground water, sediment, sludge, soil and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from past waste disposal practices at the site. Contaminants of concern identified include DDT, DDT-related products (DDTR), DDD and DDE, hexachlorocyclohexane (BHC) isomers alpha, beta, delta and gamma BHC, and chlorobenzene.

Ground water contamination is contained in place under the production facility. PRPs installed a below-ground barrier wall to divert ground water contamination to a ground water treatment system. Contaminated ground water does not affect businesses and residents near the site because they use the public water system for drinking water.

PRPs excavated, or dug up, cleaned and placed contaminated soil and sediment back on the site. PRPs placed a sand cover over areas where excavation could destroy wildlife habitat. PRPs designed the site’s cleanup plan to be compatible with the active industrial use at the site.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The site’s primary PRP, BASF Corporation, leads site investigation and cleanup activities with oversight provided by EPA and ADEM.

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Site Cleanup Plan

Site investigations and cleanup activities have focused on four areas of contamination, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. These areas include:

In 1989, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for OU-1. No additional cleanup under Superfund was required because the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action program addressed the cleanup of the alluvial aquifer.

In 1991, EPA issued a cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-2. The plan included the following activities:

In 1992, EPA issued a cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-4. The plan used the same cleanup approach for OU-2, with the exception of issuing public notices and putting in place institutional controls. The plan also included the following activity:

In 1995, EPA issued a cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-3. The plan included the following activities:

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the RODs.

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Cleanup Progress

Parties have taken several cleanup actions at the site. The RCRA Corrective Action program continues to address ground water contamination.

In 1996, PRPs constructed a slurry wall in the floodplain as part of the OU-4 cleanup plan. Beginning in December 1997, PRPs treated about 125,000 tons of contaminated soil and sediment using thermal treatment, with 14,000 tons of contaminated soil and sediment treated since then.

The site’s second Five-Year Review, completed in 2006, found that the OU-1, OU-2 and OU-4 cleanup approaches were functioning as required, but that the cleanup approach for OU-3 was not achieving intended cleanup goals. Additional cleanup would be necessary. The site’s primary PRP worked to address problems with the OU-3 cleanup plan.

In October 2008, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences requiring an innovative sand cover as a barrier between fish-eating birds and DDT areas, as excavating these areas would harm wildlife habitat. EPA and ADEM worked closely with the site PRPs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United States Department of the Interior and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on this effort.

By November 2008, site PRPs had installed the sand cover over remaining DDT contamination at OU-3. To make sure the sand cover remains an effective barrier, the PRPs inspect it annually and sample tissue from the Gambusia fish, a primary food source for fish-eating birds in the area. Sampling has demonstrated that the sand cover has been highly effective in reducing DDT levels. Once DDT levels in Gambusia fish tissues reach the established cleanup goal, the PRPs will reduce tissue sampling and sand cover inspections.

Summaries of cleanup activities are also available in Five-Year Reviews online.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA issued an order and negotiated a legal agreement with the primary site PRP, BASF Corporation, to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

RODs and Five-Year Reviews online provide information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices, interviews and information meetings.

To be included on the mailing list used for outreach, please contact L’Tonya Spencer (spencer.latonya@epa.gov), EPA’s Community Involvement Coordinator for the site.

BASF Corporation representatives meet regularly with a local Community Advisory Group to provide updates about the status of cleanup activities at the site.

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Future Work

Site PRPs monitor all four site OUs annually.

EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2011, and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2016.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

McIntosh City Hall
P. O. Box 385
McIntosh, AL  36553

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