Soil sampling reduces immediately usable residential acreage on Navassa Superfund site

Extensive soil sampling at a section of the Navassa Superfund site found several portions of the area aren't fit for residential use without remediation. Image edited to fit dimensions. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy EPA)
Extensive soil sampling at a section of the Navassa Superfund site found several portions of the area aren’t fit for residential use without remediation. In pink, portions of the site that failed to meet residential use standards. Image edited to fit dimensions. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy EPA)

NAVASSA — The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to redraw portions of the Navassa Superfund site after soil sampling found some sections of the former creosote plant are unsuitable for residential use.

In early 2020, the EPA recommended taking no action to remidiate about 100 acres on the site, which would have freed up the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation for redevelopment.

Related: Clean up or do nothing? EPA recommends no action at portion of Navassa superfund site


Once the plans were revealed, Navassa residents and town leaders asked for the land to be considered for residential use; residential use increases the environmental standards the land must pass compared to more passive uses proposed at the site.

Environmental partners began a review of residential risk in May and began extensive soil sampling at the site in August.

Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation

Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation stopped operating in Navassa by 1974. The site was dismantled by 1980. The company used creosote, a probable human carcinogen and tar-like substance used for a variety of purposes, including as a pesticide and for treating wood. Creosote contamination is present in the soil and groundwater to this day.

In the northern portion of the site, Operable Unit 1 (OU1), researchers divided the 21.6-acre parcel into 91 smaller sections. In the 20th century, this portion of the site was used as a storage area for creosote-treated and untreated wood.

Results show that 89 of the 91 subdivided sections in OU1 met residential use standards, with a few portions of the southern end of OU1 failing to meet those standards. The EPA is now proposing to trim OU1 to exclude the portions of the site that failed to meet residential use standards, reducing the site’s acreage to 20.2 acres. Once trimmed, this redrawn portion of OU1 is ready for residential use — with no further remedial action required, according to the EPA.

The EPA plans to release a revised plan for OU1 in 2021.

South of OU1 is Operable Unit 2 (OU2), a 15.4-acre portion of land that was also used for wood storage. Sampling found 15 portions of OU2 exceeds residential use criteria, according to results included in an 8,027-page technical report. Remedial action is required to bring this land up to residential use standards.

Virtual meetings planned

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), and the Multistate Environmental Response Trust (the Multistate Trust) will host two virtual meetings Tuesday, Dec. 15 to update stakeholders on progress at the Superfund site.

  • Noon to 1:30 p.m.

Call in: 1-339-666-3080 and enter meeting ID# 144 169 03#
Join Online: Click here to join the meeting

  • 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Call in: 1-339-666-3080 and enter meeting ID# 729 697 221#
Join Online: Click here to join the meeting

Learn more about the entire 254-acre Navassa Superfund Site.


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