CARBONDALE — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the completion of another cleanup at the former Koppers Wood-Treating Facility at 1555 N. Marion St. in Carbondale, according to a press release dated Feb. 24. The agency required the current owner, Beazer East Inc., to address dioxin/furan-contaminated soil on 16 acres of the site.
Work began at the site on Oct. 14. Crews cleared trees and brush to expand existing soil covers and excavated more than 34,000 tons of contaminated soil. The remedial work was delayed due to an Army Corps of Engineers permit requirement that no land-clearing work be done between April and October to protect bat species.
The company also seeded native plants in accessible areas and will resume seeding remaining areas in the spring. Erosion controls will be maintained at site boundaries and around the ditches and creek until the seeding is done and vegetation is established.
In 2010, Beazer East completed a six-year cleanup at the site under EPA’s supervision. The discovery of remaining contamination made additional cleanup necessary. Both cleanups were ordered under the authority of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
The former Koppers wood treating facility operated from 1902 until 1991 with a mostly African American workforce. The plant treated railroad cross ties, utility poles and other wood products with chemical preservatives, including creosote. The chemicals were released into the environment and contaminated portions of the site and nearby waterways. Some of the chemicals are known or suspected carcinogens.
The EPA determined that dioxin and furan compounds, byproducts of pentachlorophenol manufacturing, on the Koppers site were not fully evaluated in the 1990s. Pentachlorophenol was used as a wood preservative during one period of plant operations.
Sampling and analysis of these chemicals was completed on the Koppers site and in the adjacent residential area through 2016. Based on the ecological risk assessment, the additional 15.8 acres of soil on the former plant property were identified as needing cleanup to protect the environment. In October 2020, the EPA said sampling in the residential area near the former Koppers location did not find wood-treating chemicals.
For more information on the soil cleanup and the Koppers site, visit bit.ly/koppersepa. The site records also are available at Carbondale Public Library, 405 W. Main St., 618-457-0354.