The former site of the Cedar Chemical Corp. in Helena-West Helena is one of 12 hazardous waste sites being added to the list of most contaminated places in the United States by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA made the announcement Friday.
According to June documents from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Cedar Chemical filed for bankruptcy in March 2002. Plant operations were shut down.
The site was placed on Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission's priority list in October 2002 for investigation and remediation.
Cedar Chemical, located at 49 Phillips Road 311, manufactured farming chemicals. The plant had been operating in Phillips County since 1970. The EPA believes contamination there could pose a public health risk.
Department of Environmental Quality reports state that the surface and subsurface soils at the site are contaminated with pesticides, volatile organics and heavy metals. The water reportedly contains volatile and heavy metals and the sediments are polluted with pesticides and heavy metals.
Back in January Gov. Mike Beebe requested that Cedar Chemical be placed on the national list.
The designation sets the site up for a major cleanup, either by the government or by companies or people believed to be responsible for the contamination.
Superfund is a federal program that cleans up the most uncontrolled or abandoned waste sites in the country.
Since 1983, 1,676 sites have been placed on the National Priorities List – 360 have been cleaned up and 54 proposed sites await agency action, said the EPA.
EPA says it could take years for cleanups to begin at sites where the government must pay for the efforts. The estimated cost of the cleanup could be in the neighborhood of $30 million an EPA official reported.