Commissioners for Glynn County and Brunswick did not seem pleased with the plan hashed out between Hercules and the Environmental Protection Agency for the Terry Creek outfall Superfund site, but all appearances are that the plan will go forward as agreed.
“The county commission, the city commission — I don’t know how you can get a more blended opinion of your community than those two,” Glynn County Commission Chairman Bill Brunson said. “We’re the elected officials. And what we said was this fix just isn’t acceptable. We don’t want to bury this stuff and leave it in the ground in Glynn County.”
He later added, “After 24 years, we’ve got some real urgency going on here. We’ve been dealing with this stuff and it’s in our town, in our community. Our grandchildren are fishing and water skiing in this water.”
Commissioners also took issue with the fish advisory, saying there’s not proper signage in the area.
Scott Martin, an EPA remedial project manager, reiterated the work done at the site to remove soil with higher levels of contamination.
“We did do very extensive removal — I talked about that 35,000 cubic yards,” Martin said. “It’s what we call the principal threat waste in the area. This interim record decision eliminates the pathway to exposure. There’s a lot of questions, still, about the science of toxaphene, but we know if you seal off that ditch, it stops contributing sediment down the stream, and eliminates the source of down-the-stream receptors. And the main way people would be exposed at this site is through eating the fish. So that’s why there is a fish advisory in effect right now.”
Martin also addressed pollution at the nearby Pinova site, and chemical plumes that are migrating offsite through the groundwater.
“There is corrective action going on — one of the things they did was line the entry ditch with concrete,” Martin said. “There is a groundwater plume that does come off of the main facility and travels east. One comment we’ve gotten is that the action of the outfall ditch doesn’t address groundwater — and that’s true — but it is being attended-to. The groundwater is being dealt with the corrective action on the main facility. So, there are two different programs that are interacting. As part of that groundwater monitoring, they have over 100 groundwater wells that they monitor to keep track of (the plume).”
One new variable is the publication of a study on toxaphene that could present a better idea of exactly what is going on in the sediment and in the water at the outfall site, said Tim Frederick, an EPA human health risk assessor.
“This came out a couple weeks ago — it’s the provisional peer-reviewed toxicity values of technical toxaphene, weathered toxaphene and toxaphene congeners,” Frederick said. “And this was the reason we were asked to and then agreed to extend the comment period for the consent decree. This is significant new science for the agency, and we want to make sure everybody got the opportunity to read and review it. We’re reading and reviewing it as well, right now.
“This was generated at our request by the National Center for Environmental Assessment — it’s a group of toxicologists from Cincinnati, Ohio. They work on these types of things for Superfund programs. We’ve asked for this several times, over the last many years, and the stars aligned and we were able to get this document released.”
The report was created independent of the EPA, so staff are working through the roughly 200 pages of complex material to see how it applies. The idea is for it to provide toxicity values that can be used in risk assessment at sites like Terry Creek.