EPA, Pharmacia agree address dioxin contamination at Kanawha River

EPA, Pharmacia to address Kanawha River dioxin contamination

10:00 AM, 2nd August 2017
The Kanawha River in West Virginia. © Gazette-Mail file photo
The Kanawha River in West Virginia. © Gazette-Mail file photo

PHILADELPHIA, US: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered into a consent agreement with Pharmacia LLC on a cleanup plan to address dioxin contamination at the Kanawha River Superfund Site, in West Virginia.

The cleanup work focuses on a 14-mile stretch within the Kanawha River beginning at the confluence of the Kanawha and Coal rivers. Cleanup work will include constructing a cap over more than nine acres of contaminated river sediments. This capping will reduce the mobility and concentrations of dioxin in the sediments, which will help protect prey fish, sport fish, and bottom feeders in the river. 

The most significant human health risks at the site are associated with fish consumption from the river and the consent order provides for long-term monitoring of the levels of dioxin in fish caught along this stretch.

The State of West Virginia previously issued a fish advisory for the river due to elevated levels of dioxin found in fish caught in the river.

Pharmacia, once known as Monsanto Company, manufactured the pesticide 2,4,5-trichlorophenocyacetic acid from at a facility in Nitro, West Virginia from 1948 to 1969.  This pesticide was one of the principal components of Agent Orange, a defoliant used by the US Department of Defense.

The hazardous substance at the site is a waste byproduct of the pesticide production process known a 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD.  Pharmacia’s operations at the Nitro facility are believed to have been the primary source of TCDD contamination in the river.

EPA’s selection of the cleanup plan was done in consultation with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers and was preceded by a years-long engineering evaluation and cost analysis performed by Monsanto Company and Pharmacia under a 2004 EPA Consent Order.

The task force’s recommendations focused on five overarching goals: expediting cleanup and remediation, reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties, encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization and engaging with partners and stakeholders.

© Worldofchemicals News

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