No closure for Koppers’ neighbors

Last night the city commission voted 7-0 to accept the EPA’s cleanup plan for the Cabot Koppers Superfund toxic waste site. The commissioners thought that time was of the essence that the cleanup get started sooner rather than later, and I understand the sense of immediacy. However, since the plan includes leaving the waste where it is, protected by a clay (“slurry”) wall 65 feet deep, that means this waste will be here for a very, very long time. And wasn’t it on the same site, a couple of decades ago, that a bulldozer inadvertently breached a slurry wall and contaminated a creek? This is why I believe it’s not a good solution. It’s sort of like having a sexual predator living next to a pre-school, and taking solace in the fact that he wears an ankle bracelet.

The commissioners were told there would be no recourse for future lawsuits if this plan was accepted. And they knew there would be no cleanup without the approval. They just want to make it go away. But the plan falls short of that. They said that incinerating the soil would cost $500 million since it has to be sent to Alabama. This begs the question: How much would it cost to incinerate it HERE? Even if you used non-incinerating technology, could you still not do it here?

So, they are throwing us a $90 million bone, and leaving us the pollution. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “No closure for Koppers’ neighbors”

  1. We cannot incinerate the waste soil here because we do not have the facilities that would allow us to safely incinerate hazardous materials and control the poisonous gas that results. The closest hazardous waste landfill is in Alabama because no-body wants such a thing in their backyard (rightfully so!).

    The EPA designs based on risk to human health and environment. Cleaning up the site by excavation or pumping for 200 years is not economically feasible, so a clay slurry wall might be the most cost efficient way to reduce risk to those near of the site and ultimately our municipal drinking water well fields.

  2. Well, whether you are burning it or burying it, it’s still in our back yard. And there are other ways to treat the soil besides incineration. But even if there weren’t, couldn’t we have temporarily set the equipment up on site rather than truck it to Bama? We already have ways to capture and treat the exhaust. It would be a better alternative to leaving the contaminated soil intact.

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