EPA holds public meeting on soil contamination in North Carolina

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently held a public meeting in Waynesville, North Carolina, to discuss efforts to get rid of residual soil contamination at the Benfield Industries, Inc. Superfund Site. The site was previously the subject of a federal clean-up, however, the EPA believes that lingering contamination is seeping into the groundwater at levels that would make it unsafe for drinking. 

Benfield Industries operated for decades at the Waynesville site. According to local news outlet WLOS, between 1976 and 1982, when the facility burned down, the company mixed and packaged bulk chemicals for resale. Substances onsite included creosote, methanol, lacquer, paint thinner and acetone. Several reported spills are on record. 

The EPA began cleaning up soil contamination in 1997, WLOS reports. A groundwater extraction system pumped more than 22 millions of groundwater between 2001 and 2007, but creosote levels remain elevated. 

The agency proposes first adding hydrogen peroxide to the groundwater, in order to oxidize the contaminated soil. Then the EPA wants to introduce microorganisms commonly found in the region to metabolize the chemicals, effectively neutralizing them. The process is expected to take about one to two years, costing nearly a million dollars. The public is invited to comment for a 30-day period that began Jan. 13. 

Soil contamination is a serious environmental issue that can have major implications for both an area's groundwater and a business' viability. Companies that violate EPA regulations intended to protect local natural resources may find themselves subject to crippling fines and even criminal action. That's why it is so important to work with experienced, third-party environmental consultants, who can help ensure that major businesses are operating in compliance.