EPA SuperFund site in West Virginia-Fike Chemical

Explosion of hydrogen cyanide
Explosion of hydrogen cyanide
Cleaning up the mess
Cleaning up the mess

Superfund is an environmental organization that has made it their responsibility to clean up old waste sites that have been abandoned or through the owner’s eviction. The program was started and tied to an environmental act passed in 1980. This program also goes about finding the responsible parties and then “compelling” the parties to pay for the clean-up. In the programs basic information, they state that their process is complex and as I was searching for a site in West Virginia, I found plenty of sites that had numerous legal addendums attached, yet it 25 years they had still not resolve some serious hazard sites.

A site from the Superfund Program in West Virginia that I found was The Fike Chemical Site. It is an 11 acre patch of land in Nitro, West Virginia, a few miles from where I currently reside. It was a specialty chemical processing plant that basically chose to dump it’s hazardous waste into the ground and also in 3 leaking lagoons on site. The site was later purchased in 1986 by Artel Chemicals, but quickly abandoned less than two years later when the site’s problems arose.

The groundwater was contaminated with several organic compounds from the chemical process wastes, as well as Dioxin in the soil. The site is located less than 2000 feet from the main water way, the Kanawha River. Human health could be at risk if the soil or water was somehow ingested. This site was discovered as a hazardous site by Artel Chemicals in 1987 and was immediately capped to prevent human contact with waste.

Other immediate action was needed as there were over 10,000 drums of unlabeled hazardous material, including sodium metal and hydrogen cyanide. In the end, almost three quarters of a million gallons worth of toxic waste was removed in the immediate action in 1988. Most of the remaining building and decontamination to the soil was done by 1993. Several more drums of dioxin contaminated sludge was discovered and disposed of in 1995. In 1997 a new waste water plant was completed to start cleaning the water table of the site, ending Phase 1 of the groundwater component remedy. There is no other information to suggest that Phase 2 has even begun or when it is planned.

Reference

The Fike Chemical Plant (2012) Retrieved from:http://www.epa.gov/reg3hwmd/npl/WVD047989207.htm

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