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Atlantic Phosphate Works

National Information


Site excavation activities

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SC0002332815
Location: Charleston, Charleston County, SC
Lat/Long: 32.82656, -079.959769
Congressional District: 01
NPL Status: non-NPL
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil, Sediment
Cleanup Status: Removal action has been completed; ground water monitoring is underway
Human Exposure Under Control: NA
Groundwater Migration Under Control: NA
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: NA
Site Reuse/Redevelopment:
Site Manager: Ken Mallary (mallary.ken@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Atlantic Phosphate Works site includes the area where a phosphate fertilizer facility operated from 1900 until 1943. The Hagood Steam Plant currently operates on the site. Formerly operated by Virginia Carolina Chemical Company, the site is one of several former phosphate fertilizer facilities located throughout the southeastern United States that EPA, Exxon Mobil Corporation (ExxonMobil), and state agencies are addressing through an innovative cleanup agreement. The agreement allows ExxonMobil to use a standard cleanup approach across these sites, using EPA-authorized Superfund removal actions.

Because of contamination associated with the former phosphate fertilizer facility, EPA authorized a removal action at the site. EPA, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and ExxonMobil, the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP), have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. ExxonMobil has cleaned up contaminated soil and sediment and is monitoring the long-term treatment of ground water. Site contamination does not threaten people living and working near the site. Residents and businesses nearby use the public water supply for drinking water. By continuing to monitor ground water, EPA, SCDHEC and ExxonMobil continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 30-acre site is located on Hagood Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Site surroundings include the Ashley River to the west, the Stono Phosphate Works site to the north, the Rosemont neighborhood to the east, which includes low-income and minority residents, and the Columbia Nitrogen site to the south.

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, Virginia Carolina Chemical Company (VCC) produced phosphate fertilizer at several sites throughout the southeastern United States, including the Atlantic Phosphate Works site. Fertilizer manufacturing operations took place at the site from 1900 until 1943. Manufacturing at the site involved combining phosphate ores with sulfuric acid to produce phosphoric acid, the building block of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium agricultural fertilizers. Operators produced sulfuric acid at the site and stored it in lead-insulated chambers.

In 1946, parties constructed a power plant on site. South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) currently operates the 100-megawatt Hagood Steam Plant, which provides energy during periods of high demand. In 2008, SCE&G installed two new gas turbines at the plant. The main structures currently located on site include gas turbine generator buildings and large aboveground storage tanks associated with the steam plant.

While ExxonMobil never owned or operated facilities at the site, the company accepted responsibility for site cleanup by way of a corporate merger in 1999. Today, ExxonMobil is actively cleaning up a number of the VCC sites across the southeast, including the Atlantic Phosphate Works site.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found lead and arsenic contamination, as well as low pH conditions, associated with former phosphate fertilizer manufacturing in ground water, soil and sediment.

ExxonMobil cleaned up contaminated soil and sediments to levels that support industrial uses.

Contaminated ground water remains but is contained within the site boundary. Residents and businesses in the area use the public water supply for drinking water.

The site is fenced and secured.

ExxonMobil will place institutional controls to prohibit use of ground water and residential development of the site.

EPA considered children’s health issues as part of the site’s risk evaluation.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

ExxonMobil conducted the removal action and is monitoring the long-term treatment of ground water. EPA and SCDHDEC provide oversight.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 2004, EPA signed an Action Memorandum, which authorized the use of a non time-critical removal action, a short-term cleanup, to address the contamination at the site and described EPA’s preferred plan for addressing it. Based upon additional information, EPA issued a second Action Memorandum to change the cleanup plan in 2010. The revised plan included the following activities:

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Cleanup Progress

In 2008, ExxonMobil began the first phase of the removal action. ExxonMobil excavated and treated an estimated 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil located within the footprint of the area designated for new turbines and disposed of the soil off site. ExxonMobil completed the first phase of the removal action in 2009.

In 2010, ExxonMobil began the second phase of the removal action. The company excavated and treated over 50,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment and disposed of the material off site. ExxonMobil mixed a chemical additive with the backfill and placed it below the water table to help reduce the levels of lead and arsenic in ground water. On December 9, 2010, EPA and representatives from SCDHEC, ExxonMobil and their consultants conducted the final inspection for the removal action.

ExxonMobil will continue ground water monitoring to determine the effectiveness of the removal action. Parties expect lead and arsenic levels in ground water to decline within five to 10 years.

EPA OSC.net provides more information about the removal activities.

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Enforcement Activities

In October 2000, EPA and Exxon Mobil entered into a legal agreement, in which Exxon Mobil agreed to conduct an engineering evaluation/cost analysis to fully investigate site-related contamination and determine potential risks to public health and the environment caused by the release or threatened release of contamination from the site.

ExxonMobil funded site cleanup activities and continues to fund site monitoring and oversight.

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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. 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 make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices, interviews and information meetings on cleanup progress and activities.

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Future Work

ExxonMobil will continue to monitor ground water.

ExxonMobil will place institutional controls on the site property to prohibit use of ground water and residential development at the site.

The PRPs initiated the NTCRA in October 2011, and completed the NTCRA in April 2012.

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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

Charleston County Public Library
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC  29401

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