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Swift Agri-Chem

National Information
Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SCD058181991
Location: Charleston, Charleston County, SC
Lat/Long: 32.84098, -79.972115
Congressional District: 06
NPL Status: Non-NPL
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil, Sediment
Cleanup Status: Construction Underway – non-time-critical removal action activities have begun
Human Exposure Under Control: NA
Groundwater Migration Under Control: NA
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: NA
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Currently unused
Site Manager: Ken Mallary (mallary.ken@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Swift Agri-Chem Corp site includes an area where a phosphate fertilizer facility operated from 1891 to 1975. Tthe Palmetto Low-Country Behavioral Help Center operates on one corner of 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, a short-term cleanup, 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. A water line connects residences and businesses near the site to the public water supply. By designing and implementing cleanup activities for the site, EPA, SCDHEC and ExxonMobil continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 43.6-acre site is located at 2750 Speissegger Drive, next to the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina. Wetlands border the site to the north, the Virginia Carolina Chemical (VCC) Wando site borders the site to the south, Interstate 26 borders the site to the east and the Ashley River borders the site to the west. The Columbia Nitrogen site is located 2.5 miles north of the site. An apartment complex, which includes low-income and minority residents, and a nursing home are located south of the site.

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 Swift Agri-Chem Corp site. Fertilizer manufacturing operations took place at the site from 1891 to 1975. Manufacturing operations 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. The site is not in use.

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 Swift Agri-Chem Corp site.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, soil and sediment that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from fertilizer manufacturing operations at the site. Contaminants of concern includelead and arsenic. Low pH conditions are also of concern.

Ground water contamination remains within the site’s boundary. Residents and businesses near the site use the public water supply for drinking water. Soil and sediment contamination remains and poses a threat to trespassers on site.

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

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

ExxonMobil leads site investigation and cleanup activities. EPA and SCDHDEC provide oversight of ExxonMobil’s activities at the site.

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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 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 update the cleanup plan in 2010. The revised plan included the following activities:

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Cleanup Progress

In 2008, ExxonMobil completed the design for the non-time-critical removal action activities.

In 2011, ExxonMobil conducted cleanup activities at the site. ExxonMobil dug up approximately 142,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment and removed it off-site for disposal. Some of the soil and sediment was treated on-site prior to off-site removal. ExxonMobil restored affected wetlands following the completion of the sediment cleanup activities. ExxonMobil mixed a chemical additive to the backfill soil and placed the soil below the water table to help reduce the levels of lead and arsenic in groundwater. Following the completion of soil and sediment removal activities, the EPA and representatives from SCDHEC, ExxonMobil, and their consultant ARCADIS toured the site on January 4, 2012, as part of the final inspection.

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


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Enforcement Activities

In 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 continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

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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 include public notices, interviews and information meetings.

EPA also met with residents of the apartment complex and nursing home south of the site following completion of the cleanup plan design and before beginning cleanup activities. EPA plans to address community concerns about dust emissions during site activities by conducting air monitoring.

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Future Work

ExxonMobil plans to begin cleanup activities at the site in 2012.

ExxonMobil will monitor the air during site cleanup and will continue to monitor ground water following completion of site cleanup activities.

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

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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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