Bossier City contamination, site is part $5.1 billion settlement - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Bossier City contamination, site is part $5.1 billion settlement

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Energy company Anadarko must pay $5.1 billion for environmental contamination committed by chemical maker Kerr-McGee. Some of that is to clean up contamination in Bossier City and other nearby locations once occupied the manufacturer.

The EPA and U.S. Department of Justice reached the settlement last month. It's the largest contamination settlement in U.S. history. Anadarko must pay simply because it absorbed Kerr-McGee a few years ago.

Environmental trusts will handle the $5 billion settlement and manage the contaminated sites. Around $21 million could be designated to fund cleanup efforts at the Bossier City site, which is located within the 600 block of Hamilton Drive. A 20 acre field there is contaminated with creosote, a cocktail of chemicals the EPA lists as a possible cancer causer.

Bossier school gets $1.5 million for creosote contamination 

You can barely tell Kerr-McGee once had a wood treatment facility there along Hamilton. A rusted sign is basically the remaining structure of the plant. It began operations in 1930 and shut down in 1987. The facility was decommissioned in 1988, but for all those years before, creosote was used to treat and preserve railroad ties. Gallons of it soaked into the soil.

Greenfield Environmental Trust Group holds the Bossier City site's deed. It's 26 acres of empty land, in all. The trust is responsible for maintaining this land and cleaning up the creosote. Marc Weinreich, the trust's environmental specialist, points out not all of the site is contaminated.

"The wood treatment and process operation were exclusively located on the 20 acre parcel of land, which is to the east of Hamilton Road," Weinreich said.

Weinreich notes a report that will detail the severity of Kerr-McGee's contamination should be released later this year. Cleanup efforts will have to wait until then. Typically, creosote cleanups can last years. Greg Langley, DEQ spokesman, says the cleanup entails layers of contaminated soil being dug up, packed into containers and shipped to a hazardous waste site.

"It took a long time to get it all accumulated and it'll take a long time to get it out safely," Langley said.

Langley says creosote is most dangerous when it gets into the water supply. Rain and flooding in the area can wash some of the contaminated soil away from the Hamilton site. However, Langley insists it doesn't pose much of a risk to nearby residents. Exposure to concentrated creosote severely irritates human body tissue and is believed to cause cancer over time. It also poses a great threat to wildlife, especially fish.

Weinreich says the goal is to remove the creosote and make the land available for redevelopment. Six acres across the street from the main site will be sold off without decontamination. Weinreich notes it was used to store untreated wood. Therefore, it doesn't hold worrying amounts of contamination. He expects it will be nine months before he receives the money to clean up the creosote.

Another local site is in Calhoun, Louisiana, where the ground water is contaminated. That site used to be a Kerr-McGee nanaturalas procnatural gaser. It could get around $10 million for clean up efforts.
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