SELMA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hopes to remove truckloads of lead-contaminated soil from an old industrial site in Selma by the end of 2007, officials said Wednesday.
The site, called the "Gurley Pesticide Burial Site," is off East Preston Street north of Crocker Road, an Interstate 95 service road. It is a designated Superfund site -- a reference to the federal program to locate, investigate and clean up the worst sites in the nation.
The EPA says a former property owner removed 147 buried drums of pesticides -- including DDT, DDE and DDD -- in 1994. But the site continues to have elevated levels of lead, arsenic, fluoride and sulfate. Between about 1910 and 1969, the site was used for fertilizer manufacturing, which produced those contaminants as byproducts.
"The main thing that drives this clean up is lead," Randy Bryant, an EPA official from Atlanta, said at a hearing in the town courthouse Wednesday.
Bryant said soils on the site had average lead concentrations of 3,000 mg/kg. That is about seven times the acceptable levels for wildlife, Bryant said. It is also about 4.5 times the acceptable level for humans.
Lead also has seeped into the groundwater and nearby Bawdy Swamp Creek, studies for the EPA show. Monitoring wells on the site have an average concentration of about 5.5 times the standard for groundwater, Bryant said.
Bryant said the contaminated groundwater was moving slowly in the south/southwest direction and was still contained within the borders of the property. He said that no public or private wells draw water within a mile south/southwest of the site.
Sylvia Cox, 60, whose father bagged fertilizer on the site for many years for the Virginia-Carolina Chemical Co., asked at the meeting whether cleanup efforts would have adverse effects on nearby residents. She lives a few blocks away. Bryant said that workers would mist the soil and cover trucks carrying dirt with tarps so that contaminants would not fly into the air.
After completing soil removal at a cost of about $3.1 million, workers will probably install a barrier to reduce the solubility and mobility of the contaminants for another $4 million. ExxonMobil and Illinois Cereal Mills, previous owners, will split the cost.
Staff writer Peggy Lim can be reached at 836-5799 or firstname.lastname@example.org.