Maryland Wetland Comes Off Superfund List
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to remove the Southern Maryland Wood Treating site in St. Marys County from the Superfund list without restrictions on future use of the property.
From 1965 to 1978, the wetland property was used for wood treatment operations. The treatment process used creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP), which contaminated soils, groundwater, and a stream adjacent to the site.
The site was abandoned in the early 1980s, with processing equipment, contaminated soils, and deteriorating tanks of creosote and PCP left behind.
The EPA placed the site on its Superfund list of most toxic waste sites in 1986, making it eligible for federal cleanup funds. With input from community stakeholders, the EPA selected a cleanup technology called thermal desorption.
Thermal desorption removes harmful chemicals from soil and sediment by using heat to change the chemicals into gases. These gases are collected with special equipment. The dust and harmful chemicals are separated from the gases and disposed of safely. The clean soil is returned to the site. Thermal desorption is not the same as incineration, which uses heat to destroy the chemicals.
A plan to incinerate the contaminated soils and sediments onsite was changed due to local opposition because of perceived health concerns and high estimated costs.
Starting in 1998, EPA excavated some 270,000 tons of soil and sediment soaked with creosote and PCP from the site and adjacent stream. These materials were cleaned using thermal desorption, which laboratory testing confirmed was cleaning the soil to residential standards. In fall of 2000, the last load of contaminated soil was treated and backfilled into the excavated areas.
During fall of 2000, EPA regraded the site and planted a mix of wildflowers and grains to re-establish the area as a wildlife habitat. Visitors have reported evidence that wildlife is returning to the site.
Cleanup activities at the site were completed in 2003. Last November the site became the first former Superfund site in the mid–Atlantic region to be granted an official ready for reuse determination–indicating that the site is ready for reuse after the cleanup.
Deletion from the Superfund list means that the cleanup is complete and no human health or environmental threats remain. The EPA will continue to monitor its progress. A five-year review will take place to ensure that the cleanup remedy continues to be protective. The planned removal of the site from the list is subject to a 30 day comment period.
Provided by the Environmental News Service.