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Red Panther Chemical Company

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Temporary well being installed at Red Panther Site

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: MSD000272385
Location: Clarksdale, Coahoma County, MS
Lat/Long: 34.187408, 90.561625
Congressional District: 02
NPL Status: Proposed: 03/10/11; Final: 09/16/11   
Affected Media: Soil
Cleanup Status: Early Action Initiated/Completed
Human Exposure Under Control: EPA is working to determine
Groundwater Migration Under Control: There is insufficient data to determine
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In continued use – a warehouse for agricultural products is located on site
Site Manager: James Hou (hou.james@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Red Panther Chemical Company site includes the area where the Red Panther Chemical Company operated a pesticide formulation plant from 1949 until 1996. The site also includes off-site residential properties affected by contamination from the plant. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2011 because of contaminated soil resulting from facility operations. EPA, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. From 2002 until 2005, the PRPs removed more than 7,400 tons of contaminated soil from the Red Panther Chemical Company property as part of a short-term cleanup action. EPA plans to negotiate with site PRPs to plan for an extensive investigation to identify all remaining site-related risks to people and the environment. EPA has also taken several steps to keep the community informed and involved regarding site-related activities.

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Site Location and Background

The site is located at 1201 Normandy Avenue in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The site includes the 6.5-acre Red Panther Chemical Company (Red Panther) property as well off-site residential properties affected by contamination from the plant. The Red Panther property is located in a commercial and residential area, which includes low-income and minority residents. The area surrounding the Red Panther property includes the 18th Street neighborhood to the west and commercial businesses to the north, east and south. The Sunflower River is located about a quarter-mile west of the Red Panther property.

Red Panther operated a pesticide formulation plant on site from 1949 until 1996 producing liquid and dry herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. During its operations, the state regulated the facility under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

In November 1985, a fire burned down one warehouse on site. Contaminated runoff from the firefighting effort caused a fish kill in the nearby Sunflower River. During the investigation and cleanup after the fire, parties discovered 382 old fiber drums in the crawlspace below the burned warehouse. Ninety-five of the drums contained trace pesticide residues, requiring disposal at a commercial hazardous waste facility.

In 1996, the facility closed. In 1999, MDEQ referred the site to EPA. In 2001, EPA authorized a removal action, a short-term cleanup, to address contamination on the Red Panther property. The site’s PRPs completed the cleanup action in 2005. MDEQ later referred the site to EPA because of soil contamination in the adjacent neighborhood and the potential for contaminated ground water to spread.

In 2011, EPA listed the site on the NPL. The Red Panther property is currently in use as a warehouse for agricultural products.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Potential contaminants of concern include pesticides, such as toxaphene and hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH, formally known as BHC, or benzene hexachloride).

Sampling activities since 2005 have documented pesticide contamination in surface soil at 26 residences in the 18th Street neighborhood. Contaminant levels at 11 residences exceeded long-term health-risk standards. A 2010 study found seven additional locations with elevated levels of contaminants in soil. EPA has shared the results with affected residents and property owners.

Significant potential also exists for ground water contaminant migration to the underlying Sparta and Wilcox ground water aquifers. The aquifers supply drinking water for private wells in the vicinity and for the City of Clarksdale.

EPA plans to negotiate with site PRPs to plan for a remedial investigation/feasibility study to assess fully all remaining site-related threats to people affected by the site and to the environment and evaluate cleanup options. During the investigation, parties will also evaluate any impacts to the Sunflower River.

The Red Panther property is fenced and secured.

EPA has informed school administrators at the Booker T. Washington Elementary School, located just west of the 18th Street neighborhood, about issues related to the site. EPA has also sampled soil at a day care facility in the 18th Street neighborhood. Parties will also evaluate children’s health issues as part of the site’s risk assessment.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is conducting a site-related health assessment.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA plans to negotiate with site PRPs to plan for site investigation and cleanup activities. EPA and MDEQ are providing oversight of all activities.

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Site Cleanup Plan

After completion of the remedial investigation/feasibility study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan to address any contamination and related risk to people and the environment. After receiving input from MDEQ and the community, EPA will issue the final cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD). After issuing the plan, parties will begin preparations to carry out approved cleanup activities.

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Cleanup Progress

In 2002, the site’s PRPs began a short-term cleanup action to address contamination on the Red Panther property. Cleanup activities included:

The PRPs completed the cleanup action in 2005.

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Enforcement Activities

In 2001, EPA entered into a legal agreement with the site’s PRPs to conduct a short-term cleanup on the Red Panther property.

EPA plans to negotiate with the PRPs to plan for site investigation and cleanup activities.

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Community Involvement

EPA is working with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA is conducting a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts have included public notices, public meetings and interviews with residents. EPA is also completing a community involvement plan for the site.

EPA maintains regular communication with 18th Street neighborhood residents to keep them informed about the site. As part of this effort, EPA is helping residents form a Superfund Community Advisory Group, or CAG. To learn more about the CAG, contact the site’s Community Involvement Coordinator Sherryl Lane (lane.sherryl@epa.gov / 404-562-8611).

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Future Work

EPA plans to negotiate with the site’s PRPs to plan for the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study. After completion of the remedial investigation/feasibility study, EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

EPA has not yet established an information repository for the site.

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