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National Fireworks

National Information
Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: TNSFN0407047
Location: Cordova, Shelby County, TN
Lat/Long: 35.16307, -089.74305
Congressional District: 08
NPL Status: Superfund Alternative Approach
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil
Cleanup Status: Site Investigation/Feasibility Study Underway
Human Exposure Under Control: NA
Groundwater Migration Under Control: NA
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: NA
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In continued use – an industrial park is located on site
Site Manager: Keriema Newman (keriema.newman@epa.gov)

Current Status

The National Fireworks site includes an area where the National Fireworks company manufactured various munitions from 1941 until 1945. Since 1986, the site has operated as an industrial park. EPA did not list the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) but considers it an NPL-caliber site and is addressing the site through the Superfund Alternative Approach. EPA, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), and Security Signals, the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP), are investigating site conditions and taking steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. In 2010, EPA authorized the PRP to undertake a series of short-term cleanup actions, referred to as removal actions, in two areas of the site. The PRP is also completing an in-depth site investigation. EPA and the PRP will use the results to determine appropriate cleanup activities for site ground water contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 260-acre site is located east of Memphis in Cordova, Shelby County, Tennessee. Macon Road borders the site to the north. A forested area borders the site to the south. Grays Creek borders the site to the east. A Tennessee Valley Authority easement borders the site to the west. Railroad tracks border the site to the northwest. The site’s broader surroundings include industrial, residential, agricultural and commercial land uses.

From 1941 to 1945, the National Fireworks company manufactured various munitions, including flares, grenades and incendiary bombs as well as 20-millimeter and 40-millimeter rounds for the United States Army and Navy at the site. Operations mixed chemicals and tested manufactured goods on site.

In 1986, developers redeveloped the site as Cordova Industrial Park. The industrial park includes several subdivided industrial lots occupied by distribution, office, sales, storage, repair and production facilities. Site PRP Security Signals, an ordnance manufacturer, also operates on the site.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water and soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from operations and waste handling practices at the site. Potential contaminants of concern in soil include arsenic, lead, zinc, chromium, dieldrin and polychlorinated biphenyls. Potential contaminants of concern in ground water include tetrachloroethylene (also known as PCE or PERC), trichloroethylene (TCE), dichloroethene and perchlorate.

Since around 1995, parties have conducted several environmental investigations at the site.  Since 2008, the site’s PRP has been conducting a remedial investigation at the site primarily to assess ground water and soil contamination.

As a result of site investigations, in 2010 EPA authorized the PRP to conduct removal actions in two areas of the site located at the Security Signals facility: the metal shop waste area and the pin flare area. See “Cleanup Progress” for more information.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The site’s PRP leads site investigation and cleanup activities, with oversight provided by EPA and TDEC.

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Site Cleanup Plan

Site investigations and cleanup activities have focused on two areas, which EPA refers to as operable units or OUs. The OU-2 site is being addressed by Secuirty Signals and is primarily ground water contamination.

The site’s PRP is currently conducting studies to evaluate OU-2 contamination. EPA and the PRP will use the results of the studies to determine appropriate cleanup activities for OU-2. EPA will then issue a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for OU-2.

EPA OSC.net provides more information about site activities associated the the removal actions that occurred in the area of the former metal shop waste  area and former pin flare burial pit.

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Cleanup Progress

 In 2010, EPA authorized the PRP to undertake removal actions to address the metal shop waste area and the pin flare area. The PRP began the removal actions in December 2010. The PRP completed the removal actions associated with the metal shop waste in December 2010. The PRP dug-up an estimated 550 cubic yards of soil and transported the material off-site. The PRP then placed clean soil back in the dug-up areas.   The removal action also involved excavation of approximately 7,000 – 10,000 live pin flares.


EPA OSC.net provides more information about site activities.

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Enforcement Activities

In 2007, EPA negotiated a legal agreement with the site PRP to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site investigation, cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities at OU-2.

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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. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA is conducting 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 include public notices, interviews and information meetings.

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Future Work

The site PRP is currently conducting an in-depth site investigation called a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS).  The schedule for completion of the RI/FS is early summer 2014.  The FS will lay out alternatives for addressing the ground water contamination and recommend a preferred alternative.  The next step will involve EPA issuing a Proposed Plan to the community of Cordova.  EPA will also host a Proposed Plan meeting to meet with local leaders and community members to explain the preferred remedial alternative and answer questions.  A comment period of 30 days will be held in order to allow individuals to make formalized comments to the EPA about the Proposed Plan.  The EPA will issue a Record of Decision to document the selected remedial alternative at the close of the 30 day comment period.  More information regarding the Proposed Plan and the meeting location and time will be made available later in the summer. 

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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

Cordova Branch Library
8457 Trinity Road
Cordova, TN 38018

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