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U.S. EPA kicks off second phase of Superfund cleanup at Stockton, Calif. site; Property once housed creosote application facility for wood products

Release Date: 08/18/2006
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

(08/18/06 - ) The second phase of the ongoing federal Superfund cleanup of creosote waste from the McCormick & Baxter site in downtown Stockton has begun.

The 29-acre site, along the Old Mormon Slough in Stockton’s deep water port area, was placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities list – commonly know as the Superfund list – for cleanup in 1992.

From 1942 to 1990 the site was used to spray wood products such as railroad ties and utility poles with creosote to extend their lives. Phase II of the cleanup will involve stabilizing creosote waste at the river’s bottom.

“Covering the contaminated sediments will protect the fish habitat and aquatic health of the slough,” said Marie Lacey, the EPA’s Superfund project manager for the Pacific Southwest region. “Next year we hope to begin soil cleanup on the land portion of the site.”

Made from coal tar, creosote is a known carcinogen and both long and short term exposure are known to have resulted in skin cancer and cancer of the scrotum. Animal studies have also shown skin cancer from skin exposure to coal tar products.

Construction of the cap – which will cover approximately 8.8 acres, or about three-quarters of the slough — will require about 36,400 cubic yards of sand laid on the riverbed two feet thick. The work should be completed by November.

In conjunction with the start of sediment capping work, the EPA will hold an open house to explain Phase II activities taking place this year and answer questions from the community. The open house will run from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29 at the Boggs Tract Community Center at 533 South Los Angeles St.

The EPA completed Phase I of the site cleanup in late 2002. That phase involved stabilizing the southern shoreline of the slough to prevent contaminated soil along the bank from eroding into the slough. The work included clearing away concrete and debris, cutting back the slope of the bank, installing bank protection material and building a new berm with clean fill material.

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