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American Creosote Works - Pensacola Plant


Extraction well being installed on site to increase the DNAPL recovery rate.


Photo looking south from ACW from on top of the temporary cap.

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: FLD008161994
Location: Pensacola, Escambia County, FL
Lat/Long: 230.404710, -087.236660
Congressional District: 01
NPL Status: Proposed: 12/30/82; Final: 09/08/83
Affected Media: Ground water, Sediment, Sludge, Soil
Cleanup Status: Site cleanup underway
Human Exposure Under Control: Under investigation
Groundwater Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None
Site Manager: Peter Thorpe (thorpe.peter@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The American Creosote Works Inc. (Pensacola Plant) site includes the area where a wood-treating facility operated from 1902 until 1981. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983 because of contaminated soil and ground water resulting from facility operations. EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) 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 currently threaten people living and working near the site. Both residents and businesses use the public water system for drinking water; private wells are for irrigation purposes only. By undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA and FDEP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 18-acre site is located on 1800 West Gimble Street in Pensacola, Florida. Several businesses are located north of the site, including a lumber company, an auto body shop and an appliance sales and repair shop. Residential areas, which are included in the site, also surround the site to the west, south and east. The site is located in a commercial and residential district directly south of the intersection of Barrancas Avenue and West Main Street, about 600 yards north of Pensacola Bay and Bayou Chico.

The site is the location of a former wood-treating facility that operated from 1902 until 1981, when American Creosote Works filed for bankruptcy. Prior to 1950, the company used creosote exclusively to treat poles. Use of pentachlorophenol (PCP) started in 1950 and steadily increased in later years of the facility’s operation. Dioxins at the site resulted from the use of PCP as a wood-treating chemical. Dioxins are a common impurity in commercial-grade PCP.

Operators sent process wastewaters to four holding ponds located in the western portion of the site. The ponds overflowed after heavy rains. Prior to 1970, wastewater in these ponds overflowed through a spillway into local streets and storm drains and Bayou Chico and Pensacola Bay. In later years, the company collected and spread liquid wastes on the ground in designated "Spillage Areas" on site. In 1983, EPA listed the site on the NPL.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in soil, sediment and ground water that could potentially harm people in the area. The contamination resulted from waste handling practices at the site. Contaminants of concern include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PCP and dioxin from former wood-treating processes.

Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. Both residents and businesses use the public water system for drinking water; private wells are for irrigation purposes only.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA leads site investigation and cleanup activities in cooperation with FDEP.   

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Site Cleanup Plan

Site investigations and cleanup activities have focused on three areas, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. These areas include OU-1: surface and below-ground soil and sediment; OU-2: ground water; and OU-3: off-site dioxin-impacted soil.

In 1985, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. However, the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation (FDER, now FDEP) and EPA were unable to reach agreement regarding the selected cleanup plan and did not implement the plan.

In 1989, based on more site investigations, EPA issued a second cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-1. EPA amended the ROD in 1999. The plan included the following activities:

In 1994, EPA issued a two-phase cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-2.  Phase 1 includes the following activities:

Based on periodic ground water monitoring data, EPA will determine whether to continue enhanced DNAPL collection or implement Phase II, which includes the following activities:

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the RODs and Five-Year Reviews.

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Cleanup Progress

In 1983, EPA performed an emergency cleanup to prevent contamination from migrating off site. The emergency cleanup involved draining lagoons, treating the wastewater, solidifying the sludge in the lagoons with lime and fly ash, and constructing a temporary clay cap over the lagoons.

In 1985, EPA completed a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) for the site. EPA performed an additional study in 1988 to provide further information on the spread of surface soil contamination.

The OU-1 cleanup is not yet complete. EPA has undertaken interim cleanup activities at the site. In 2003, EPA moved contaminated soils from surrounding residential areas onto the site and covered the soil with a temporary cap. However, EPA has not installed a final, permanent site-wide cap.

Site contaminants affected the Southeast Ditch, which borders Pine Street, Cypress Street, F Street and a residential driveway. EPA dug up the Southeast Ditch in January 2010 and placed all dug-up soil on site. EPA filled the dug-up area with clean soil and the area was seeded.    

For OU-2, Phase I of the two-phase DNAPL removal system has been installed. The DNAPL system operated as designed from 2001 until 2003, when EPA shut the system down due to contaminant damage to the activated carbon filters. EPA replaced the activated carbon and the system operated sporadically until September 2004, when Hurricane Ivan damaged the system. EPA completed repair work in December 2005. The Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers currently operates the DNAPL system. EPA also installed ground water monitoring wells at 10 locations in 2007 to begin monitoring and preparation for Phase II cleanup activities. Deeper extraction wells installed in 2009 increased the rate of DNAPL recovery to approximately double the previous rate. The system has recovered over 185,000 gallons of creosote to date.

EPA created OU-3 in 2006 based on new risk-based FDEP regulations for dioxin. OU-3 includes all off-site dioxin contamination. EPA obtained neighborhood-wide dioxin samples in 2007 to determine the extent of contamination in the area. EPA completed a remedial investigation and a baseline risk assessment in 2009. EPA obtained more off-site dioxin samples in 2010 to clarify further the locations of dioxin contamination. EPA obtained PAH samples during the 2010 sampling event to determine contaminant levels in the off-site areas. The Agency issued a site wide focused feasibility study (FS) in March 2014 including proposed remedies for all three operable units. EPA is currently incorporating FDEP’s input on the study into the final Focused FS Report. EPA is using the information to complete the site wide Proposed Plan and ROD.

Map of dioxin sampling results.

An institutional control preventing the drilling of any wells on or near the site is in place and fencing around the facility prevents access to contaminated soil.

EPA completed the third Five-Year Review of the site’s cleanup approach in 2011.  

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

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Enforcement Activities

EPA was unable to identify any viable potentially responsible parties for the site. EPA is using federal funds for site cleanup activities.

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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 fact sheets, public notices and information meetings. The site also has a Community Advisory Group. The Community Advisory Group has been meeting since the early 2000s.

While the site is currently vacant, the community has developed reuse plans. These plans, updated over time in coordination with the site’s cleanup, call for recreational and other land uses at the site in the future. The community last updated the site’s reuse plan in 2010.

Fact Sheets

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Future Work

EPA will finalize the site wide Focused FS Report in 2014. EPA will then begin work on the site wide Proposed Plan and ROD for all three operable units.

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

Genealogy Branch Library
Lana Services
5740 N. Ninth Ave
Pensacola, FL 32504

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