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Tennessee Products (Chattanooga Creek)


View of Chattanooga Creek flowing through the Tennessee Products site.

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: TND071516959
Location: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, TN
Lat/Long: 34.998880, -085.314440
Congressional District: 03
NPL Status: Proposed: 01/18/94; Final: 09/29/95
Affected Media: Ground water, Sediment, Soil
Cleanup Status: Construction Complete - Physical cleanup activities have been completed.
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: Yes
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None
Site Manager: Craig Zeller (zeller.craig@epa.gov)

Current Status

The Tennessee Products site includes an area where dumping of coal-tar wastes affected Chattanooga Creek. Tennessee Products operated a coal carbonization facility near Chattanooga Creek from 1918 until 1987. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1995 because of contaminated ground water, sediment, soil and surface water resulting from facility operations. EPA, the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation (TDEC) and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) 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. However, a fish advisory remains in effect for fish caught from Chattanooga Creek. By undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, TDEC and the site’s PRPs continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The site is located immediately west of downtown Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee. The site includes the former Tennessee Products coal carbonization facility and the coal-tar dumping areas in Chattanooga Creek and its floodplain. Industrial land uses surround the site. Low-income and minority residents live in houses along the creek.

From 1918 until 1987, Tennessee Products operated the coal carbonization facility. Operations included dumping of coal tar wastes into Chattanooga Creek. In 1995, EPA listed the site on the NPL.

The site is currently not in use.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, sediment, soil and surface water of Chattanooga Creek downstream from the Tennessee Products facility that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from waste handling practices. Contaminants of concern include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

TDEC issued a health advisory for Chattanooga Creek in 1983 and a fish consumption advisory in 1992. The fish advisory remains in effect for fish caught from Chattanooga Creek.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA led site cleanup activities in 1998 in cooperation with TDEC. The site’s PRPs led cleanup activities between 2005 and 2007, with oversight provided by EPA and TDEC.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 2002, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included the following activities:

In 2004, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) to change the timing and cost of the cleanup plan and to dispose of contaminated sediments at a local municipal landfill instead sending them to a waste-to-fuel facility.

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the ROD and ESD.

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Cleanup Progress

In 1993, EPA fenced a section of Chattanooga Creek to prevent public access.

In 1998, EPA completed short-term cleanup activities on the upper reach of Chattanooga Creek. Cleanup activities included removing coal and tar deposits and contaminated sediments along a one-mile section of the creek between Hamill Road and 1,200 feet north of the 38th Street Bridge. EPA removed approximately 25,000 cubic yards of coal, tar and contaminated sediment from the creek. In addition, EPA removed 1,150 cubic yards of pesticide-contaminated sediment from the creek and disposed of the sediment at a local municipal landfill.

From 2005 to 2007, the site’s PRPs dug up approximately 108,000 tons of stabilized sediment from the creek channel and transported it to an off-site landfill for disposal. The PRPs placed a cap over 5,750 feet of the creek channel to prevent potential recontamination from non-aqueous phase liquid in the subsurface of the sediment.

The site’s third Five-Year Review, completed in 2011, found that the cleanup remains protective of human health and the environment.

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

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Enforcement Activities

EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site’s PRPs to investigate and clean up the site. The PRPs continue to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

The ROD and Five-Year Reviews online provide additional information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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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 public notices, interviews and public meetings.

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Future Work

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

Chattanooga Hamilton County Public Library
1001 Broad Street
Chattanooga, TN 37402

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