Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. (Tronox)

A view North of the marsh and upland of the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. site.
Looking North into the marsh and uplands.

“Restoration, creation, and protection of marsh and riverine habitats will help to make up for the environmental injuries from the Kerr-McGee Site by providing an opportunity to generate additional fish and wildlife in the Cape Fear Basin.”  

Howard Schnabolk
NOAA Restoration Center


Howard Schnabolk
NOAA Restoration Center
Charleston, SC
(843) 740-1328

Case Documents

Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. (Tronox)

Hazardous Waste Site | North Carolina | 1936 to Present


What Happened?

The Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation Corp. site is a former creosote wood-treating facility located on a 250-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Cape Fear River, Brunswick River and Sturgeon Creek in Navassa, NC. The facility was established in 1936 and was operated by multiple owners until its final proprietor, the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp., ceased operations in 1974. 

The facility was dismantled between 1979 -1980.  Creosote and sludge remaining from the wood treatment process were left on site, which led to the release of SVOCs semi-volatile organic compounds; a group of hazardous chemicals that accumulate in sediments and living creatures; PCBs, dioxins, and some pesticides are SVOCs., most notably PAHspolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; a group of organic contaminants that are often the byproducts of petroleum processing or combustion. Many are toxic to aquatic life and several are suspected of causing cancer in humans., into the surrounding environment. In 2010, EPA designated the property a Superfund site. NOAA and other Trustees have continually coordinated their activities, with the cleanup actions performed by EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.


What Were the Impacts?

PAHs were released into the soils, groundwater, and surrounding marsh sediments at the site. Levels of contamination in marsh sediments remain high enough to continue to have negative impact on the marsh habitat and the ecological service it provides. For example, the high levels of contamination present at the site harm the bottom-dwelling organisms that support the aquatic food chain. The surrounding aquatic environment provides important habitat for many types of fish and wildlife, including American shad, Atlantic sturgeon, Atlantic menhaden, southern flounder, and spotted and striped bass.


What’s Happening Now?

A settlement was reached with the responsible partyThe individuals, companies, or government agencies responsible for an oil spill, hazardous substance release, or ship grounding incident. in January of 2014, providing more than $23 million for restoration for this site. This settlement is part of a larger $5.15 billion settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history at the time.

Restoration planning is underway. In October 2019, NOAA and its co-Trustees released a Phase I Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for public review and comment. The draft restoration plan proposes 10 preferred projects, estimated at $11.35 million. The Trustees will continue restoration in phases until all remaining restoration funds are exhausted.

An information session was held in Navassa, North Carolina on  November 6, 2019 to share information about the preferred restoration alternatives. The draft plan will be open to public comment for 47 days (revised from 45 days due to federal holidays during the comment period), until December 4. A synopsis of comments received during this time will be included in the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for Phase I.

To submit comments, please send them to Howard Schnabolk, NOAA Coastal Marine Specialist in Charleston, South Carolina, at with the subject line “Kerr-McGee Draft Restoration Plan Comment” no later than December 4, 2019. 

Or mail your comments, postmarked by December 4, to:

  • Howard Schnabolk ℅ NOAA Restoration Center
    2234 South Hobson Ave
    Charleston, SC 29405

Requests for hard copies of the draft plan should be submitted to the email or mailing address above before the December 4 comment deadline.

Last updated November 20, 2019