Cleanup Process in the North Birmingham Environmental Collaboration Project
EPA is evaluating the environmental condition of the area related to the current and historical activities. There are several industrial facilities that have operated or are now operating within the area that may have impacted the environment.
EPA is addressing air quality concerns in North Birmingham communities as an extension of the national School Air Toxics Initiative (SAT) which focused on assessing the outdoor air near various schools. Three schools in the North Birmingham area were included in the initial SAT study. Data collected in the SAT suggested a need for further air sampling in order to better assess long-term pollutant concentrations in the air in neighboring communities.
EPA is approaching the environmental assessment of the North Birmingham area in a multi-media (OneEPA) manner that includes Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Superfund (SF), Air, Water and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Programs. The Agency plans to characterize and assess environmental concerns in the northern Birmingham communities of North Birmingham, Collegeville, Fairmont, and Harriman Park. EPA intends to complete its assessment as quickly as possible to address potential environmental contamination in the area and protect the health of community members. The plan will include a coordinated effort using RCRA and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) authorities to focus on environmental conditions in the area.
EPA has entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with Walter Coke, Inc. Under the AOC, which became effective on September 24, 2012, Walter Coke has agreed to conduct RCRA Corrective Measures Studies for numerous Solid Waste Management Units and Areas of Concern on its property, and implement EPA-approved site restoration and/or cleanup remedies for those areas. The AOC is designed to be a roadmap for an effective site-wide cleanup. EPA has approved the Community Involvement Plan prepared by Walter Coke under the AOC.
EPA will use its CERCLA authorities to assess nearby communities. A Superfund assessment will allow EPA to determine the possible presence of pollutants based on sound science, identify potentially responsible parties, and determine appropriate next steps in the community. The Superfund Program will focus on identifying and addressing contamination within the Superfund Site area referred to as the 35th Avenue Superfund Site. The Site includes areas of the communities of Fairmont, Collegeville and Harriman Park, and Five Mile Creek. The EPA has recently expanded the Site boundary to include all of the Collegeville community. EPA began its assessment by seeking access to residential properties in October 2012. EPA started sampling in November 2012. Technical documents and updates on the Superfund cleanup progress can be found at http://www.epaosc.org/35ave. Exit
EPA continues to conduct a comprehensive investigation in the areas surrounding the 35th Avenue Superfund site to determine what contaminants are present, evaluate what needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible, and identify any potentially responsible parties, in order to bring them to the table. EPA has completed the first round of sampling and is beginning the process of providing results to residents who reside or own property located in the boundary of the Site in the communities of Collegeville, Fairmont, and Harriman Park. EPA began to issue sample results on February 14th.
Soil samples collected were analyzed for semi-volatile organics compounds, metals (including arsenic and lead) and polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzo (a) pyrene, benzo (a) anthrocene, and benzo (b) fluoranthene. Notification of sampling results is the next step of the ongoing EPA investigation designed to collect information and to determine what actions to take to address community environmental concerns. Residents are asked to please contact Stephanie Y. Brown, EPA’s Community Involvement Coordinator, at (205) 326-8640 if there are questions about their soil sample results. EPA has prepared responses to frequently asked questions to provide additional information on the soil sampling data.
The EPA Water and Air Programs are focused on permitted activities two Coke facilities in the area, the Walter Coke and ABC Coke. In 2011 and 2012, the EPA’s Water Enforcement Program conducted inspections to evaluate compliance at the wastewater treatment plant and with the stormwater management permit conditions at the ABC Coke and Walter Coke facilities. A letter of concern was issued on March 16, 2012 to Walter Coke, identifying deficiencies and concerns requiring a response. Walter Coke provided responses in April and June, 2012. EPA conducted a follow up inspection in November 2012. The report from this inspection is in progress. The Air Program is currently evaluating the compliance status of the coking operations and chemical byproducts operations at both facilities.
The Agency for Toxics Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has completed a Health Consultation of the existing air toxics and soil contamination data and is planning to release their findings in two reports. The Health Consultation on the 2005 and 2009 soil sampling data will be released on February 19, 2013. A local meeting kicking-off a public comment period will be held on that date. The Air Health Consultation Report is planned for release later this year. Environmental Justice and community engagement efforts will continue to be coordinated, and we will provide environmental education opportunities to help community members understand the risks associated with exposure to identified pollutants in the area, the regulations governing them, and other related topics.
The EPA Air Toxics program is conducting a Pilot Air Toxics study of the communities of North Birmingham, Fairmont, Collegeville and Harriman Park. In June 2011, we initiated the North Birmingham Pilot Community Air Toxics Initiative (BPAT). The BPAT was developed primarily to address the concerns about limited air monitoring data but has been expanded to include education and outreach to increase community awareness of various air quality issues. The BPAT includes:
- a one year air toxics monitoring and risk assessment study;
- outreach initiatives and educational workshops on sources of air toxics, permitting of facilities, radon, mold, asthma management, and lead exposure; and
- a community engagement plan for increasing both awareness of environmental issues and participation of citizens in addressing environmental concerns.
In March of 2013, EPA will release the results of the air toxics risk assessment that has been prepared based on the Pilot Air Toxics Study sampling that occurred during 2011 and 2012.
EPA will work with its partners to ensure that the response activities are comprehensive, based on sound science and protective of human health and the environment. EPA plans to move as quickly as possible and comply with Federal environmental standards. EPA will ensure the affected community and local, state and federal officials are well informed and are provided an opportunity to work with EPA on agency response activities. EPA will also continue to provide environmental education opportunities to help community members understand the risks associated with exposure to identified pollutants in the area, as well as the regulations governing them. As part of that process, EPA will provide periodic updates on our activities and there will be a number of upcoming public meetings focusing on the community’s environmental issues. Calendar of meetings - updated March 2013.
- March 2013 - Public Meeting to present the results of the Air Toxics Risk Assessment.
March-April 2013 - Joint EPA/ATSDR Public Availability Neighborhood meetings to further discuss soil & air issues.