Friday, August 19, 2022

Contaminated Navassa superfund site to be redeveloped

A chemical wood preservative used in the 1970s at the Kerr-McGee Creosote Plant is still present at the Navassa site. According to the EPA, the contaminants only pose a threat to trespassers of fenced-off areas.

A large wooded area in Navassa, currently an EPA Superfund cleanup site, could be redeveloped in the future into a multi-use park. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)
A large wooded area in Navassa, currently an EPA Superfund cleanup site, could be redeveloped in the future into a multi-use park. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Google Maps)

NAVASSA — A Superfund cleanup site in Navassa could be redeveloped into a multi-use park, with options for an amphitheater, sports arena, and commercial or industrial development.

Formerly owned by the Kerr-McGee Creosote Plant, over 200 acres of land has been under Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) investigation since 2010.

RELATED: Minutes from Wilmington via I-140, Navassa is now poised for a development boom

The plant was in operation for nearly 40 years before closing in the late 1970s. Kerr-McGee’s former site is now owned by the state and the Multistate Environmental Response Trust.

Decades after ceasing operation, areas of the site’s soil, sediments and groundwater is still contaminated with creosote, a wood preservative. According to the EPA’s most recent public meeting about the Navassa Kerr-McGee site, held in April, creosote, arsenic, and other volatile organic compounds were identified as continued areas of concern.

The EPA’s recent findings revealed a risk area of 1 to 3-acres that “may need to be addressed.”

Research results from EPA’s spring 2018 documents indicate trespassers are the only mammals at risk of chemical exposure; Mammals can metabolize creosote and areas with high levels of contamination are currently fenced off.

Redevelopment options

One of three brownfield remediation sites in Navassa, the EPA, NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Multistate Trust have worked on a reuse plan for the site since last year.

Though a redevelopment plan is yet to be decided, the EPA has produced four concept plans for the 245-acre site.

All four site plan options include variations of commercial lots, a cultural heritage center, walking and biking trails, a kayak launch, a ferry or boat dock and a riverwalk. Some plans include the option of an amphitheater, an outdoor sports complex and light industrial lots.

Though the entire site is located in Navassa, the town will have no say in who purchases parcels of the divided site in the future. A bankruptcy settlement following a Kerr-McGee spinoff in 2009 authorized the EPA, NCDEQ, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to approve sales or transfers of the property.

Stakeholders will present redevelopment plans and discuss remediation options during a public meeting Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Navassa Community Center. From 3 to 6 p.m., an open house with redevelopment concepts will preclude a public information meeting from 6 to 8 p.m.

EPA documents indicate some areas of the Navassa Superfund site are still contaminated with creosote, a wood preservative. (Port City Daily graphic/Courtesy Environmental Protection Agency)
EPA documents indicate some areas of the Navassa Superfund site are still contaminated with creosote, a wood preservative. (Port City Daily graphic/Courtesy Environmental Protection Agency)

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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