Historical operations at the Koppers Superfund site have resulted in releases of airborne dust and vapors that have impacted the surrounding community. In the past, numerous complaints have been filed because of odors and dust.
The off-site soil investigations have shown that site-related chemicals in this soil, particularly dioxins, occur in elevated concentrations compared to normal concentrations from natural sources. This is the result of these chemicals being deposited on the soils over nearly 100 years of the Koppers wood-treating operations. Because the contaminated material in the soil has settled from the air, it is likely that most of the contamination remains near the surface. In addition, these contaminants have likely entered homes either directly or from the tracking of contaminated surface soil into the home.
In recent years, actions have been taken to reduce dust and air emissions, and currently the facility is closed. However, contaminants in the offsite soil still pose a hazard – both directly and by their ongoing potential to enter homes. Inhalation of contaminated soil and dust particles also remains a potential hazard.
So how does the cleanup of the Koppers site address the hazards of inhaling contaminants?
Superfund remedies are typically designed to eliminate current and ongoing risks identified during investigations and to prevent future risks. Risk-based soil cleanup levels are developed to be protective for persons contacting contaminants in soil via inhalation as well as ingestion and skin contact. Florida SCTLS, indentified as cleanup levels in the EPA proposed plan, should therefore be protective for inhaling dust particles.
This does not address historical exposures or chemicals that may remain in homes. The City and County Commissions have recommended that after defining wherever soil contamination above the cleanup levels is identified, the remedy should cover not only the soil cleanup but also dust removal within those homes that may be contaminated.
In addition to these actions, concerns remain about dust and contamination being spread during the cleanup process. To address this, a management plan to control dust and a plan to monitor emissions is required to be in place.
A list of EPA guidance documents related to air monitoring requirements can be found at the following website.
What can you do?
EPA’s Superfund remedy will not address all concerns raised by the community, particularly damages associated with historical exposures. Expressions of public anger about the historic lack of serious action to protect the community will increase the pressure for the present remedy and future actions to be rigorous.
In addition, the public comment period, which ends October 15, 2010, is also the time to express any concerns you may have about the cleanup of contaminated soils and house dust and about requirements for reducing the release of contamination from the site during the cleanup process.
Have there been any air quality tests done at the Koppers site?
There haven’t been any air quality tests done at the Koppers Site and in surrounding neighborhoods.
However, in August 2009, a study “Potential Fugitive Dust Impact predicted from Air Dispersion Modeling” was conducted. A US EPA model was used to predict air quality impacts generated by fugitive dust caused by vehicle traffic at the Koppers site. Concentrations of different contaminants were predicted such as naphthalene, dioxin, arsenic and PAH. These concentrations were compared to EPA ambient screening levels. The report shows that predicted concentrations are below ambient screening levels and therefore there are no significant health risks from fugitive dust emissions at the Koppers site
Nevertheless, it is important to point out that these results have not been approved by the EPA and the FDEP because of technical reasons. Moreover, the model does not use current conditions because vehicle traffic is used as a generator of fugitive dust