Kerr-McGee Superfund Decontamination Scheduled To Begin In November

Oct 7, 2020

The process of cleaning up Jacksonville’s most contaminated superfund site along the St. Johns River and Talleyrand Ave. will begin in November with preliminary construction.

The Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation site has remained dormant since 1978.  Responsibility for the land was accepted by the Multistate Environmental Response Trust as part of a bankruptcy settlement in 2011. 

When it was still active, it was the site of a fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide formulation, packaging, and distribution plant, which riddled the land with contaminants. All of the structures on the 31-acre site were torn down. The only remnants remaining are foundations. 

During the first of two planned community update meetings, the site’s project manager Peter Cornais explained the process of decontamination.

There are four major components for remediating the land, according to Cornais: 

  • In situ soil stabilization: This technique stabilizes and blocks off areas of major contamination so groundwater can no longer mix in with those areas. 
  • Soil Remedies: Adding in new, clean soil, and inserting a cap over the entire site to prevent exposure of contaminated soil, as well as groundwater from mixing in. 
  • Sediment Remedies: A bulkhead will be created along the shoreline of the St. Johns River to prevent contaminants from leaking out and contain contaminated sediments will be removed. 
  • Groundwater Remedies:  This is the use of other components and a hydraulic containment system, such as a water pump and treat system to prepare it for discharge. 

Just south of the site is Deer Creek. Cornais said the Multistate Trust will also continue investigating that  area for the best methods of decontamination going into 2021. 

The construction starts in November and will focus on getting the site ready for all of its remediation methods, including setting up utilities, setting up a construction entrance and a tire wash to prevent trucks from contaminating areas outside of the site. Stormwater control measures will also be installed and site clearing will be done.

The Multistate Trust will also install air monitoring equipment.

“It’s really important to help us understand and make sure that we're addressing dust at the site,” Cornais said. 

The air monitoring equipment will determine air quality over time to ensure the decontamination isn’t negatively affecting nearby neighborhoods and JAXPORT. 

The Multistate Trust is also working with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to determine the best processes for decontamination.

Cornais said there is already discussion with a prospective buyer interested in the site once the decontamination is completed. Money from the purchase would go toward the land’s long term care. 

“It could also go to other portions of the remedies such as the Deer Creek investigation, or Deer Creek cleanup, or additional remedial activities,” Cornais said. 

Cornais encouraged small and minority businesses interested in working on the land’s decontamination to reach out. 

“One of the things that we'd like to consider in the Multistate Trust is to try and provide an impact in the communities that have been affected by the Superfund sites, so primarily

the Eastside neighborhood and the neighborhood surrounding the Eastside neighborhood,” Cornais said. “We do look to those, and try and hire from those neighborhoods and try and identify businesses from those neighborhoods.”

The outlook on the timeline could change with delays and design changes, but Cornais said the construction and decontamination of the site could be completed sometime in 2022. 

There will be monthly updates provided by the Multistate Trusts.

In 2010, the EPA put the site on the National Priorities List for federal superfund sites. 

Florida has 52 sites on the NPL, but the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. site has the highest Hazard Ranking System score in the entire state at 70.71.

Other NPL sites in Jacksonville include Cecil Field Naval Air Station (31.99), Jacksonville Naval Air Station (32.08), and Pickettville Road Landfill (42.94). 

Another virtual public meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 5:30 p.m. More information can be found on how to access the meeting here.

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.