EPA finally finishes Chattanooga Creek Superfund project

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CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – It took more than two decades of cleanup.

But today the Environmental Protection agency announced they have completed the Superfund project on Chattanooga Creek in Alton Park.

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The Tennessee Products company ran a coal carbonization facility on the Creek for 70 years.

And they dumped their coal tar waste into the creek.

TENNESSEE PRODUCT PROJECT TIMELINE

1918-1987: Tennessee Products dumps waste into creek

1993: EPA fences off section of Chickamauga Creek from public

1995: EPA adds location to National Priority List

1998: Phase I cleanup begins

2005: Phase II cleanup begins

2007-Now: Site maintenance and monitoring is ongoing.

In Phase I, EPA crews drained a mile long section of the creek from Hamill Road to the 38th Street bridge.  They then dug up solid coal, tar and contaminated sediment on the bed of the creek. 26,150 cubic yards of it went to a local landfill.

“You think about  how it affected those children, those children my age, what health risks are there still out there in the community.”

– Debra maddox

2002

Phase II was handed over to companies along the creek, with supervision from state and federal environmental agencies.

They began removing tons more contaminated sediment, but hit a problem. A black liquid began leaking from the bed back into the creek.  They weren’t sure what it was, but it threatened the entire project because of re-contamination.

The decision was to cap the creek, buy laying down a physical barrier between the earth below and the water above, to prevent future leaks.

When Phase II was finished, they had removed 108,000 tons of sediment from the creek channel.

Since then, they have tackled a “spoil site” along a tributary to the creek and stabilized the creek banks.

“it’s just the fact that something is being done…the creek is a start..and we can go from there.”

-Benny Watkins

2006

“We celebrate this significant milestone that EPA and our partners are making to clean up contaminated property and return the land to productive use,” EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.

“A successful cleanup is a win-win that supports economic growth and a more sustainable community.”

The EPA announced they are taking 27 sites off the National Priorities List this year, including the Tennessee Products site.

That is the most since 2001.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says “I am proud of the work we have done to deliver on the Trump Administration’s commitment to protect the people we serve and support community revitalization by allowing land to be rediscovered and repurposed for productive use.”

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