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Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp Columbus

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Excavation begins

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: MSD990866329
Location: Columbus, Lowndes County, MS
Lat/Long: 33.5107301, -88.4079336
Congressional District: 03
NPL Status: Proposed: 03/10/11; Final: 09/16/11   
Affected Media: Ground water, Sediment, Soil
Cleanup Status: Early Action Initiated/Completed; Study Underway
Human Exposure Under Control: EPA is working to determine
Groundwater Migration Under Control: There is insufficient data to determine
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Not in use potential for future use
Site Manager: Charles King (king.charlesl@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Columbus site includes the area where Kerr-McGee Chemical and its successor, Tronox Incorporated (Tronox), operated a chemical manufacturing facility from 1928 until 2003. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2011 because of contaminated ground water, sediment and soil resulting from facility operations. EPA and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) have taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. EPA conducted short-term cleanup actions in 2010 to remove highly contaminated soils from Hunt Intermediate School, Miranantha Faith Center and a nearby residential property on Moss Street. EPA is conducting an extensive investigation to identify all site-related risks to people and the environment. Most residents and businesses nearby use the public water system for drinking water. As part of its investigation, EPA plans to survey residents and businesses to make sure no one is drinking water affected by ground water contamination. EPA has also taken several steps to keep the community informed and involved in site-related activities.

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Site Location and Background

The 90-acre site is located at 2300 North 14th Avenue in Columbus, Mississippi, east of the intersection of North 14th Avenue and North 21st Street. The site boundary includes the former chemical manufacturing facility; in the future, EPA may expand the boundary to include residential properties. Commercial businesses and neighborhoods, which include low-income and minority residents, surround the site. Schools and daycare facilities are also located nearby.

The chemical manufacturing facility operated from approximately 1928 to 2003. While it was operational, Kerr-McGee manufactured pressure-treated railroad products such as wooden cross ties, switch ties and timbers. Operators used creosote and creosote coal tar solutions to produce pressure-treated wood products. Operators also used pentachlorophenol (PCP) for wood treating from the 1950s until the mid-1970s.

Since July 2003, when facility operations ended, Kerr-McGee and its successor Tronox, removed all tanks, equipment and process buildings. A small office and maintenance building housing ground water treatment equipment remain on site. A fence surrounding the site restricts access.

In 2011, EPA listed the site on the NPL. The site is currently unused.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in ground water, sediment and soil on the site that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from facility operations. Some contamination also spread off site.

EPA conducted short-term cleanup actions in 2010 to remove highly contaminated soils from Hunt Intermediate School, Miranantha Faith Center and a nearby residential property on Moss Street. EPA also placed a fence around a potentially contaminated off-site part of a drainage ditch to prevent access. EPA OSC.net provides more information about EPA’s removal activities.

Currently, EPA is conducting a remedial investigation/feasibility study to fully assess site-related threats to people living near the site and to the environment and evaluate cleanup options.

Most residents and businesses in the area around the site use the public water system. EPA, in coordination with local public water system providers, has determined that it is highly unlikely that contaminated ground water from the site would affect the public water supply. As part of the remedial investigation, EPA plans to survey nearby businesses and residents to make sure no one is using a private well affected by ground water contamination. A ground water pump-and-treat system has operated on site under the authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) since 1990.

EPA will be evaluating children’s health issues as part of the site’s risk assessment.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

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

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Site Cleanup Plan

After completing the remedial investigation/feasibility study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan to address any contamination and related risk to people and the environment. After receiving input from MDEQ and the community, EPA will issue the final cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD). After issuing the plan, EPA will begin preparations to carry out the approved cleanup activities.

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Cleanup Progress

Kerr-McGee and its successor, Tronox, conducted several closure activities under the RCRA program and state oversight. Parties dug up contaminated material in the surface impoundment and replaced it with clean soil. Parties also removed contaminated soil from a drainage ditch. A ground water pump-and-treat system has operated on site under RCRA authority since 1990.

EPA conducted three rounds of soil sampling in 2010 and 2011. Based on the soil sampling results, EPA dug up and disposed 278 tons of contaminated soil, and then restored the areas. EPA also installed a fence to prevent access to a potentially contaminated part of a drainage ditch. EPA completed these activities in May 2011. EPA OSC.net provides more information about EPA’s removal activities.

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Enforcement Activities

In 2011, as part of a bankruptcy settlement, Tronox transferred ownership of the site to a Multistate Environmental Response Trust.  The Trust was created in the settlement to take ownership of this and other Tronox properties. The Trustee, The Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC, is funding the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study.

Read more about the Tronox bankruptcy settlement and the Multistate Environmental Response Trust.

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Community Involvement

EPA is working 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. EPA cannot fulfill its mission without community engagement and public outreach as core components of the program’s activities.

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

The local community has been actively involved in the cleanup process, with the Memphis Town Community Advisory Group (CAG) formed to provide a community forum for discussing site-related issues. Memphis Town is a historic name given to the area where the site is located. The CAG has hosted several EPA presentations addressing the role of the site’s bankruptcy trustee, the availability of an independent contractor to interpret removal action data, and two new Superfund program initiatives in EPA Region 4. The CAG typically holds meetings about once a month.

In addition to working with the CAG, EPA has taken additional steps to involve the community in site cleanup activities. In August 2011, EPA hosted a meeting to provide an opportunity for the community to meet and hear from the final four contractors competing to perform the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study. The purpose of this effort was to:

At a community meeting held on October 27, 2011, at the Columbus Municipal Complex, the Mayor of Columbus, the Chair of the Memphis Town CAG, and EPA’s project manager for the site signed a partnership agreement to develop student leadership through meaningful roles as members of the CAG.

Because of the community’s interest in redeveloping the site, EPA and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are collaborating to conduct a study on the potential for solar power generation at the site. The solar feasibility study (PDF) (1 pg, 130K, About PDF) will evaluate technical approaches and associated economic opportunities and challenges.

For more information about site-related activities, please contact one of the members of EPA’s site team.

FACT SHEET
  • Fact Sheet, May 2014 (PDF) (2pgs, 180.48K, About PDF)
  • Community Involvement Coordinator: Kerisa Coleman (coleman.kerisa@epa.gov) (PH: 877-718-3752, extension 28831 (toll-free) / 404-562-8831 (direct))
  • Remedial Project Manager: Charles King (king.charlesl@epa.gov) (PH: 404-562-8931)
  • On-Scene Coordinator: Steve Spurlin (spurlin.steve@epa.gov) (PH: 731-394-8996)
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    Future Work

    EPA is conducting the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study. After completing the remedial investigation/feasibility study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan.

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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

    EPA has not yet established an information repository for the site.

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