Clayton News-Star

With environmental deal done, remediation work will begin at future Clayton park

This schematic prepared by Sage Design for the Town of Clayton shows what the town’s proposed park off of Covered Bridge Road could look like.
This schematic prepared by Sage Design for the Town of Clayton shows what the town’s proposed park off of Covered Bridge Road could look like. N.C. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES

With a state environmental agreement on the books, chemical company DuPont says it will start removing tainted soil from the site of a future Clayton park.

Earlier this month, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources signed off on a Brownfields Agreement, which essentially absolves Clayton of future liability at the 39 acres on Covered Bridge Road. The land has traces of hazardous insecticides, mostly in a trench where DuPont used to dump chemicals.

DuPont, which owns the land, is selling the property it once used as an research farm to Clayton for $600,000. Clayton has plans to combine the 39 acres with an adjoining 80 acres to build a nature park next to the Neuse River.

However, the Brownfields Agreement says the town can do no work until the site is cleaned up. As part of the land purchase, DuPont has agreed to remove the chemicals from the site.

Kevin Garon, a site-remediation manager with DuPont, said the company will excavate and haul away tainted soil from a small area on the southwestern portion of the property. “The excavation will be back-filled with clean soil material upon completion,” Garon said in an email.

The company has not established a timetable for the project, and the state must approve DuPont’s remediation plan before work can start.

DuPont’s Corporate Remediation Group, which has hired contractors to complete the project, works with local communities, regulatory agencies and other groups to clean up tainted sites.

The Clayton site, sometimes referred to as River Park, ranks as the 79th most hazardous site in the state, according to the N.C. Division of Waste Management.

For nearly 30 years, DuPont used the land to study the effects of protection chemicals on row crops. The company halted operations at the site in the mid-1980s, and the land reverted to farming.

The Brownfields Agreement will require the town to restrict access to a three-acre pond and prohibit the use of groundwater from the site, which has also tested positive for chemicals. A copy of the agreement shows that Clayton can use the land only for recreation, athletic fields, a staging area for the local fire department and parking.

Neighbors and town residents had a chance to comment on the Brownfields Agreement in August and September, but the state received no comments, said DENR spokeswoman Cathy Akroyd.

Clayton paid a $30,000 fee to expedite the Brownfields Agreement. The town has already completed a master plan for the park, which will likely include a nature park with an amphitheater, hiking trails, a ropes course and kayak and canoe rentals.