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Columbia Nitrogen

National Information


Sediment excavation area

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SC0001040393
Location: Charleston, Charleston County, SC
Lat/Long: 32.824157, -079.96105
Congressional District: 06
NPL Status: Not NPL
Affected Media: Ground water, Sediment, Soil, Surface Water
Cleanup Status: EPA has authorized a removal action to address site contamination
Human Exposure Under Control: NA
Groundwater Migration Under Control: NA
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: NA
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Potential for Commercial/Light Industrial
Site Manager: Ken Mallary (mallary.ken@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Columbia Nitrogen site includes the area where a phosphate fertilizer facility operated from 1905 until 1972. Because of contamination associated with the facility, EPA authorized a removal action at the site. EPA, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), and the current property owner have investigated site conditions. In 2011, EPA approved a site cleanup plan. The site owner and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) have been in ongoing legal negotiations since 2006. Once the PRPs and the site owner complete negotiations, EPA will work with the parties to schedule and carry out the site cleanup plan. A water line connects nearby residences and businesses to the public water supply.

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Site Location and Background

The 43-acre site is located on the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina. The Atlantic Phosphate site borders the site to the north, the Koppers Co., Inc. (Charleston Plant) site borders the site to the south, industrial and commercial businesses border the site to the east and the Ashley River borders the site to the west. The Rosemont neighborhood, which includes low-income and minority residents, is located approximately one half-mile from the site.

A fertilizer manufacturing facility operated at the site from 1905 until 1972. Manufacturing involved combining phosphate ores with sulfuric acid to produce phosphoric acid, the building block of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium agricultural fertilizers. Operators produced sulfuric acid at the site and stored it in lead-insulated chambers.

In 1980, Columbia Nitrogen Corporation demolished all on-site structures. In 1985, Columbia Nitrogen Corporation sold the site to a company that leased it to container-storage companies. In 2003, Ashley II of Charleston purchased the site. There is no redevelopment of the site planned. EPA has authorized a Superfund removal action, a short-term cleanup, to address contamination at the site.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, surface water, sediment and soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from former phosphate fertilizer manufacturing operations at the site. Contaminants of concern include lead and arsenic.

Contamination does not extend beyond the site boundary. A water line connects residents and businesses near the site to the public water supply. The site is fenced and secured.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA and the current site owner, Ashley II of Charleston, conducted site investigation activities. EPA and SCDHEC provide oversight.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 2005, EPA signed an Action Memorandum, which authorized the use of a removal action, a short-term cleanup, to address the contamination at the site and described EPA’s preferred plan for addressing it. Based upon additional information, EPA issued a revised Action Memorandum to update the cleanup plan in 2011. The revised plan included the following activities:

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Cleanup Progress

From 1999 to 2002, EPA conducted the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study.

In 2004, Ashley II of Charleston conducted additional sampling activities at the site.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA used federal funds to conduct the remedial investigation/feasibility study from 1999 until 2002.

In 2006, EPA provided a mediator to facilitate ongoing legal negotiations between the site’s PRPs and the site owner. Due to the ongoing legal negotiations, parties have not begun carrying out the site cleanup plan.

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Community Involvement

EPA worked 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. EPA cannot fulfill its mission without community engagement and public outreach as core components of the program’s activities.

Following the start of cleanup activities, EPA plans to conduct a range of community involvement activities at the site to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process.

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Future Work

Once the site’s PRPs and the site owner complete legal negotiations, EPA will work with the parties to schedule and carry out the cleanup plan.

The EPA has approved the PRP’s removal action work plan. The PRPs are scheduled to begin the removal action in September 2014.

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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

Charleston County Public Library
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29301

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