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Koppers Co., Inc. (Charleston Plant)

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Center channel of the Barge Canal at low tide Koppers Co., Inc. (Charleston Plant) site

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: SCD980310239
Location: Charleston, Charleston County, SC
Lat/Long: 32.822080, -079.958330
Congressional District: 06
NPL Status: Proposed: 02/07/92; Final: 12/16/94
Affected Media: Ground water, Sediment, Soil, Surface water
Cleanup Status: Concstruction Complete
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: Yes
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None - potential for mixed use
Site Manager: Craig Zeller (zeller.craig@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Koppers Co., Inc. (Charleston Plant) site includes the area where the Koppers Company operated a wood treatment facility from 1940 until 1978. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1994 because of contaminated ground water, sediment, soil and surface water resulting from facility operations. EPA, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and Beazer East, Inc., the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP), have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. A water line connects residents and businesses to the public water supply. By treating and monitoring ground water, placing institutional controls on the site property and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, SCDHEC and the site’s PRP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 102-acre site is located on the west side of a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers in Charleston, South Carolina. Industrial, commercial and residential properties border the site to the north, south and east. Rosemont, a neighborhood with low-income and minority residents, is located just north of the site. The Macalloy Corporation Superfund site is located a half-mile north of the site.

From 1940 to 1978, the Koppers Company operated a wood treatment facility on a 45-acre portion of the site. Operations included treating raw lumber and utility poles and using aboveground storage tanks for wood preservatives. Following wood treating operations, the Koppers Company leased the area to several other companies, including Fed Serv, Pepper Industries and Braswell Shipyards, for facility operations. The Koppers Company changed its name to Beazer East, Inc in 1990.

The Koppers Company never owned the remaining 57 acres of the site located south of the wood treatment facility. Ashepoo Phosphate/Fertilizer Works owned the area and operated a phosphate and fertilizer production facility in this area from 1900 until 1978. After obtaining a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southern Dredging excavated a barge canal in 1984 that extended approximately 1,000 feet inward from the Ashley River. EPA incorporated the 57 acres into the site’s boundaries to determine the environmental impact of previous dredging operations on the Ashley River and the neighboring tidal marsh.

In 2003, Ashley LLC purchased the site property parcels previously owned by Beazer East, Inc. Ashley LLC plans to redevelop the area as part of Magnolia, a 218-acre mixed-use project with residential, commercial retail and office/hotel space and parks. The southern portion of the site is currently vacant.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in ground water, sediment, soil and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from wood treatment operations at the site. Contaminants of concern include polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), pentachlorophenol (PCP), dioxinarsenic, leadchromated copper arsenate (CCA) and creosote.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

Beazer East, Inc., the site’s PRP, leads site investigation, cleanup and operation and maintenance activities, with oversight provided by EPA and SCDHEC.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 1995, EPA issued an interim cleanup plan (an interim action Record of Decision, or ROD) to address the spread of contaminants and eliminate chances that people could encounter site contamination.

In 1998, EPA issued the final cleanup plan (ROD) for the site. The cleanup plan included the following activities:

EPA later issued two Explanation of Significant Differences (ESDs) in 2001 and 2003 to change cleanup activities for the Ashley River to placing an underwater cap over river sediments and cleanup activities for the Barge Canal cleanup to monitored natural attenuation processes. The ESDs also included the stabilization/solidification of creosote.

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the RODs and ESDs.

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Cleanup Progress

In 1983, Pepper Industries began cleanup activities on the portion of the site owned by the Koppers Company. Pepper Industries then declared bankruptcy and ceased all cleanup activities. Braswell Shipyards conducted cleanup activities at the property in 1987, including removing storage tanks and containers and arranging for proper disposal of the wastes. The Koppers Company funded half the expense of this cleanup operation.

In 1985, Fed Serv, the Koppers Company and several other parties began short-term cleanup activities at the former wood treatment facility’s tank farm area, including disposing of material in the tanks, demolishing the tanks, and digging up and disposing of contaminated soils. 

From 1997 until 2003, Beazer East, Inc., the site’s PRP, conducted cleanup activities, including digging up and disposing of 22,000 tons of contaminated soils, placing a 40-acre cap over contaminated soils, rebuilding 3,600 feet of drainage ditches, restoring tidal marshes and placing a 3-acre cap over Ashley River sediments.

From 2003 to 2010, the PRP recovered more than 22,000 gallons of creosote from ground water beneath the site.

The site’s second Five-Year Review, completed in 2008, found that the cleanup remains protective of human health and the environment.

Summaries of cleanup activities are also available in Five-Year Reviews online.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site PRP to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

RODs and Five-Year Reviews online provide additional information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA has 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. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted 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 and information meetings.

A community group involved at the site received a Technical Assistance Grant  from EPA during the remedial investigation/feasibility study.

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Future Work

The creosote and ground water recovery systems continue to operate at the site.

Inspections and monitoring of the cap are ongoing.

EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2008 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2013.

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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 29401

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