The Most Polluted Places in America

Monday, April 27, 2009

Escambia County unfortunately made MSN's list of "The Most Polluted Places in America" with the Escambia Wood Treating superfund site. I look forward to seeing this site cleaned up and redeveloped.

Here's what MSN had to say:

The former Escambia Wood Treating Company in Pensacola, Fla., was on a
26-acre property surrounded by commercial and residential communities. The
company manufactured wood products treated with creosote and pentachlorophenol PCP) between 1942 and 1982, when it was abandoned by the owner. "The facility operated for a long period of time and did not follow environmentally friendly waste management practices," says David Keefer, a Superfund Remedial Section Chief for the EPA. "The spent chemicals were stored in unlined ponds, and would seep into the ground and penetrate the soil."

Pollution from the site has impacted 96 acres of land and has created a
groundwater plume of contamination that extends about 1.3 miles from the site.
The soil and ground water around the site is polluted with creosote, naphthalene, pentachlorophenol, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxin. "These pose carcinogenic risk," says Keefer. Pollution at the site has been deemed toxic enough to relocate the people in several of the surrounding communities. The EPA has so far spent or committed to spend approximately $54.3 million on the site relocation and clean up.

The project has been divided into two parts; dealing with contaminated
soil, and dealing with ground water pollutions. "We are about 60 percent through what consists of excavating the impacted soil on or around the site," says Keefer. Plans include stabilizing, then covering or "capping" contaminated soil. The EPA's actions have, to date, largely eliminated the risk of human exposure to contaminants from the site. Eventually, the community hopes to revitalize the area, creating a commercial site that would employ 400 people from the community. Fully restoring the groundwater will take longer. "The cleaning of the groundwater will take about 10 years," says Keefer. The goal is to clean up the groundwater to the point that it could qualify as drinking water.


Anonymous said...

Pensacola is making strides to becoming a better community, one which our young folks want to call home rather than leaving to find one. In order to succeed in this endeavor we must leave behind the mentality of "economic development" at all costs and enter into a "quality of life" mentality. This, of course, includes smart development and environmental stewardship. I hope that Pensacola will continue to make progress in this area and become a city we can all be proud to call home! Chasidy Hobbs

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