Public feedback sought on cleanup for Superfund site in Columbus County

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An aerial photo circa 1965 of the Holtrachem facility in Riegelwood that has been designated a Superfund site. (Photo: NCDEQ)

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — State and federal environmental agencies are asking for public feedback on a plan to clean up environmental contamination at a Superfund site in Columbus County.

According to a news release from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), for four decades, companies including Holtrachem and Honeywell, Inc., used a mercury cell process at the site in Riegelwood to make sodium hydroxide, liquid chlorine, hydrogen gas and other chemicals that were then sold to other companies.

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DEQ and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are overseeing the investigation and cleanup of the site. Both agencies designated the Holtrachem site as a federal Superfund site because extensive contamination has made the site a high priority for cleanup. Honeywell, which owns the property, is responsible for the investigation and cleanup.

“DEQ and the EPA are working with Honeywell and the local community to develop a cleanup plan that ensures all contamination is addressed so we can protect public health and the environment,” Jim Bateson, chief of the state’s Superfund section, said in the news release. “Public participation is a vital part of the process to ensure the community’s concerns are addressed and any other feedback is considered before we develop a final cleanup plan.”

Click here to view the proposed cleanup plan



The EPA and DEQ will host a public meeting to discuss the proposed cleanup plan at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Riegelwood Community Center at 105 NC 87. People can ask questions about the plan during the meeting and will have until Sept. 14 to offer comments on the cleanup plan.

The state and federal agencies have already overseen significant cleanup actions to address the immediate environmental and health concerns at the site, including removing mercury and waste and excavating contaminated sediments in wastewater lagoons.

The proposed cleanup plan addresses the remaining on-site waste piles and contamination found in soils, sediments, surface water and groundwater. The preferred plan calls for consolidating most on-site wastes into a permanent, monitored, double-lined storage cell, as well as stabilizing and capping in place some remaining low-level contamination. The plan also proposes ongoing groundwater monitoring so any problems can be quickly identified and addressed.

People can email comments on the plan to David.Mattison@ncdenr.gov or Urquhart-foster.samantha@epa.gov. People may also mail their comments to: Samantha Urquhart-Foster, U.S. EPA – 11th floor, 61 Forsyth St., SW Atlanta, Ga. 30303.

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