Projects to move forward at Navassa Superfund Site in coming months

Operational Unit 2 (OU2) has contaminated soil that will need to be hauled off to be disposed of in a landfill
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NAVASSA, N.C. (WECT) - A piece of land with a history of contamination and a long road to recovery may finally see some progress made later this year.

It’s been nearly four decades since a wood treatment plant contaminated the Kerr-McGee property in Navassa. In a matter of months, the superfund site could finally see some real change. It’s a step that neighbors have waited on for years.

“The idea is to excavate soil in a contaminated area at the site to address that contamination,” said Greenfield Environment Trust Group’s senior attorney Claire Woods.

One of the many items brought up during Tuesday’s community meeting was what the remedial process for that area would entail. Operational Unit 2 (OU2) has contaminated soil that will need to be hauled off to be disposed of in a landfill. Contractors would then replace the dirt with clean soil.

As exciting as the news was for some, others worry that where the old soil will be dumped might cause issues elsewhere. Leaders say that won’t be an issue.

“One of the things we’ve done is look at the landfills that are being considered,” said Woods.” We can look at different demographic indicators, look at different facts about the communities where the landfills are located. Also, we look at the North Carolina community mapping tool which has similar capabilities.”

When that project breaks ground later this year, Greenfield wants to keep the money for cleanup in the local economy by hiring contractors around here.

“Right now, we’re going through the contracting process,” said Woods. “We have put all sorts of measures in place to try to make sure that we’re bringing on a local prime contractor and local subcontractors to complete the OU2 work.”

After that part of the property is cleaned up and removed from the national priority list; the next steps are to bundle up that clean land to sell to developers.

Hopefully, that will lay out the groundwork to turn what was once a wasteland into something new and useful for the community: the Moze Heritage Center.

“We’re taking a look at what’s going to go in that heritage center,” said Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis. “The Gullah Geechee slaves are our foreparents — most of us, anyway. This is what they brought to the table. They were experts at planting rice.”

Before leaders can plan how to show off that heritage, there are other issues to address. Part of the property was recently found unsuitable for building. This time, it’s not because of contamination but because it’s wetlands.

Still, that won’t derail Greenfield’s plans to donate the 20 acres of land for the project.

“It’s not a huge delay,” said Woods. “We’re working really quickly with the town and the other stakeholders to arrive at next steps. I think we’re still on track with close to our original schedule which was to complete the donation by the end of this year.”

“You know, progress is there. It’s just that at the end of the day, you want to *see something that you’ve actually done,” said Mayor Willis. “It’s been eight years and we haven’t seen a lot yet.”

Copyright 2022 WECT. All rights reserved.