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EPA, Justice Department to meet about former Kerr-McGee site

COLUMBUS — The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice will host a meeting today in Columbus on the cleanup of the old Kerr-McGee Chemical Plant.

The EPA is putting $68 million into cleaning up the 90-acre site that was shut down in 2003, as well as other places where creosote is located.

In December, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York found Kerr-McGee liable for environmental contamination worth anywhere from $5.2 billion to $14.2 billion. The Justice Department of Justice and EPA, which filed the suit, settled for $5.15 billion from Anadarko, which bought Kerr-McGee’s major assets in 2006.

EPA has handed off the cleanup to Multistate Environmental Response Trust. Multistate was created in 2011 when the EPA designated the Columbus location as a Superfund site.

While operational, Kerr-McGee manufactured pressure-treated railroad products such as wooden cross ties, switch ties, and timbers. The production processes at the site utilized creosote and creosote coal tar solutions to produce pressure-treated wood products. The facility also used pentachlorophenol for wood-treating from the 1950s until the mid-1970s.

The details of the cleanup plan take 18-24 months to develop through an investigation of the extent and range of the contamination and another six months of EPA review before the process can take place.

Cynthia Brooks, Multistate president, has said the actual cleanup work itself will probably take place over several years.

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