EPA To Move Forward With $80 million Kerr-McGee Cleanup On Jacksonville’s Eastside

Aug 1, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with an $80 million cleanup of a Superfund site on Jacksonville’s Eastside where dangerous chemicals were stored for decades. Superfund sites are considered a national priority for remediation. 

At a public meeting at Kids Hope Alliance Thursday, EPA officials shared key findings from a 35 year investigation into the land once occupied by the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation. 

The EPA’s Robinson Joseph said investigations usually don’t take that long. “At the very beginning, we had a responsible party who was leading the investigation and everything else. And everything was going very well until they filed for bankruptcy,” he said. “Now because of that bankruptcy, certainly, we ended up experiencing some delays.”   

That party was Kerr-McGee Chemical, which made fertilizers and pesticides on the 31-acre land until 1978. It was leading the investigation of its own site for the EPA until it filed for bankruptcy in 2010. 

“But we didn’t want to let them off the hook just like that, so we pursued them legally,” said Joseph. “And that’s how we end up with some agreement and the trust was created and we get some funds to address the contamination.”  

The EPA reached the $90 million settlement in 2014. That money, which is managed by the Greenfield environmental trust, will fund the project, which includes digging up and removing the polluted soil and stopping further contamination. 

Greenfield Manager Ty Griffith said the primary objective of the trust is to put properties back into productive use. 

“So we have the property on the market,” he said. “And we have had interest from a few different industrial entities and are currently negotiating for the potential sale.”  

The EPA plans to start the project by next spring. 

Contact Abukar Adan at 904-358-6319, aadan@wjct.org or on Twitter at @abukaradan17