BRUNSWICK - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has some
explaining to do about its plans for cleaning up the site of the former
Brunswick Wood Preserving operation.
That's what the Glynn Environmental Coalition and
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston's office are saying.
The EPA appears set to take a stab at it during what
it terms an "informal availability session" from 6 to 8 p.m. today at
Stellar Conference Center, 144 Ventura Drive in Brunswick. The session will
allow interested parties an opportunity to speak one-on-one with an EPA
representative about planned site activities, EPA officials said.
The site on Perry Lane Road near its intersection
with U.S. 341 was added to the federal Superfund program in 1997 and
underwent rudimentary cleansing. About 151,000 tons of contaminated soil
were gathered by the EPA and removed from the area by the state. The tainted
soil contained such heavy metals as copper, chromium and arsenic.
But the cleanup operation was halted not long after
it began, leaving residents and merchants in the area confused and worried.
What was removed was only the tip of a very polluted iceberg, according to
Daniel Parshley of the Glynn Environmental Coalition.
"More than a million cubic yards of contaminated
soil were left at the site," he said. "There are no plans to move it out.
It's an out-of-control site and the EPA hasn't demonstrated it knows how to
keep it under control."
The heavy metals and chemicals continue to leach
through the soil into groundwater, Parshley said, and a drainage pipe still
leaks into Burnett Creek.
EPA officials contend, however, that any immediate
risk had been removed by 1997.
The coalition has collected anecdotal evidence that
the pollution is causing health problems for some residents of the area,
however, including unexplained rashes, sores and earaches.
Of particular concern to the coalition and Kingston,
R-Ga., was a heavy rain in October 2005 brought on by Tropical Story Tammy
that resulted in flooding in the area.
Contaminated water stood in some yards for several
Rob Asbell, Kingston's communications director based
in Brunswick, said the congressman is concerned by EPA's unresponsiveness.
"Congressman Kingston contacted EPA on several
occasions," Asbell said. "This started building up to something dangerous
with Tropical Storm Tammy. There was a lot of concern with the flooding. We
found out some things, but the EPA was not forthcoming with priority, how
they will rank the project. They didn't give us a timetable."
Brian Farrier, EPA project manager for the Brunswick
Wood Preserving site, disagreed. He said Kingston has been kept
"In the last year and a half alone, we've responded
to his questions four times," Farrier said. "I'm not aware that we haven't
been responsive to him."
Farrier said the remedial plan is in place for the
site and will be carried out over the next couple of years. Polluted soil
will be contained in what he likens to a giant can, with sides and a cap
constructed and bedrock 50 to 65 feet below the surface serving as the
The pollutants will be sealed in and rainwater will
be prevented from leaching through, he said.
The agency only recently has received funding for
the project. It completed its remedial plan for the site in 2004 and has
been awaiting funding since then.
Carol Monell, chief of the Superfund Remedial
Branch, said faster action was not required because the immediate threat was
removed in the mid-1990s cleanup. What remains offers some potential
long-term problems, but nothing imminent and nothing of concern for nearby
residents, she said.
Farrier and several other EPA officials will be on
hand tonight to answer any questions.