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Woolfolk Chemical Plant Case Study

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Photo of Woolfolk site.
Source: Thomas Public Library

Before: Contaminated soil is removed from site.

After: The Troutman Welcome Center currently occupies what was once a contaminated ante-bellum farmhouse on the Woolfolk Chemical site.

site map

PROBLEM
  • Residential areas and businesses were contaminated with arsenic, lead, and other organic pesticides.
SOLUTION
  • Remove 3,700 cubic feet of contaminated soil
  • Remove contaminated buildings and debris
  • Install a fence and post warning signs
PARTNERS
  • U.S. EPA
  • State of Georgia
  • Peach County Library Board of Trustees
  • City of Fort Valley
  • Fort Valley County Chamber of Commerce
  • Canadyne-Georgia
POSITIVE ECONOMIC IMPACTS
Short Term
  • 7 jobs per year during six years of cleanup
  • $170,000 in annual income from short-term cleanup jobs
Long-term
  • 17 permanent/full-time jobs at the Thomas Public Library and the Fort Valley Welcome Center
  • $313,000+ in total annual income associated with these jobs
ENVIRONMENTAL & SOCIAL BENEFITS
  • Protection of residents and workerst
  • Removal of contamination in homes and businesses and reuse of one building
  • Attraction of new businesses and restored civic pride
  • Development of a new community educational resource
Last Updated January 1999

Woolfolk Chemical Plant
Fort Valley, Georgia

BEFORE
An abandoned pesticide plant surrounded by several highly-contaminated acres of soil

AFTER
A new public library, welcome center, and office space

IMPACT
Highly-valued educational and community resources

Tainted by years of pesticide production and cordoned off by long sections of barbed wire, the area around the old Woolfolk Chemical Plant held little value for the Fort Valley, Georgia community. Concerns about pollution warded off potential developers and many community members felt the area would never be used again. However, EPA worked with those responsible for the contamination to clean the polluted parcels that surround the Woolfolk plant, and to bring about their reuse. Today, Fort Valley boasts a new library, a tourist welcome center, and some much needed office space. What follows is the story of this success and the economic impacts and environmental and social benefits that resulted.

Site Snapshot

The Woolfolk Chemical Plant began operating in 1920. During World War II, the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service used it to manufacture arsenic trichloride, a key ingredient of poison gas. Following the war, the plant produced lawn, garden, and agricultural pesticides. Today, SurePack, Inc., uses the property to prepare and package pesticides. Land around the plant is predominantly residential and the southeast portion of the property is bounded by a pecan orchard. The site is in downtown Fort Valley, and there are more than 600 homes within two miles. During a routine inspection of the facility in the early 1980s, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division discovered that arsenic and other chemicals used in pesticide production had seeped from the plant into the surrounding soil and groundwater. EPA determined that the contamination posed a direct threat to many of the town’s 8,000 residents, and would require immediate cleanup to reduce risks to human health and the environment.

From Pesticides...

Following the discovery of contamination, Canadyne-Georgia, the plant operator, volunteered to begin cleanup. Workers tore down several contaminated buildings and removed 3,700 cubic yards of arsenic-laden soil. During a follow-up investigation of the property by the State of Georgia, inspectors discovered that several homes and businesses outside the site’s boundaries also in needed cleanup. The extensive contamination in the community led EPA to place Woolfolk on its list of hazardous waste sites needing cleanup.

EPA worked closely with Canadyne-Georgia to develop a cleanup plan that would protect local residents from contamination and allow for redevelopment of the site. As part of this plan, Canadyne-Georgia removed soil from 40 neighboring homes, removed contaminated dust from several residences, and treated contaminated groundwater. When the site was clean, EPA, Canadyne-Georgia, and the local community met to discuss the best use of these properties. At the community’s request, the Troutman House, a formerly-contaminated ante-bellum farmhouse, was converted to office space and several other homes were torn down to make way for a new community library.

...To a Library

The cleanup of the Woolfolk Chemical Plant has led to sweeping changes in the town of Fort Valley. The Troutman House has been cleaned and remodeled, and is now used as a Welcome Center and as office space for the Fort Valley Chamber of Commerce. Fort Valley is also planning to reuse another nearby residence as an Adult Education Center.

In addition, Canadyne-Georgia’s cleanup of the site paved the way for the construction of the Thomas Public Library. Built with over $2 million in donations from Canadyne-Georgia and the current operator of the pesticide plant, SurePack, Inc., the 15,000 square foot public library employs nine people and enriches the lives of the town’s residents.

Keys to Success

The reuse of the formerly–contaminated property surrounding the plant could not have occurred without the cooperative efforts of EPA, Canadyne-Georgia, and the local community. Canadyne-Georgia cleaned up the contaminated parcels under EPA’s oversight, transferred them to the State of Georgia for eventual reuse, and contributed funds to support the redevelopment efforts.

Using this collaborative spirit as a stepping stone, EPA sought the views of local residents in the development of the cleanup plan. After extensive conversations with the local community, it was decided that a library would best benefit the town. EPA negotiated a Prospective Purchaser Agreement with library officials that gave the town the land to build a library and literacy center, in exchange for a commitment not to cause additional contamination and to provide access to EPA for cleanup of adjacent properties.

For more information about the cleanup and redevelopment of the Woolfolk site, contact:

Michelle Glenn
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 4
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303