“Contaminants of concern released from the LCP site have found their way into this fragile estuarine environment that is home to valuable species and habitats. It is important that the natural resource trustees use sound scientific methods to quantify injuries to these resources and to compensate the public with appropriately designed and carefully implemented restoration projects.”
NOAA Case Team Economist
Hazardous Waste Site | Brunswick, GA | 1919 to Present
From the 1919 to 1994, the LCP Chemical site was occupied by a series of industrial operations. An oil refinery, power plant, and [qtip:chlor-alkali| The electrolysis process used in the manufacture of chlorine, hydrogen, sodium hydroxide (corrosive) solution.] facility released multiple hazardous substances into the surrounding area. Contamination extends to the Purvis Creek, Turtle River, Brunswick River, and surrounding salt marsh, all part of the Turtle-Brunswick River Estuary (TBRE). Primary contaminants include [qtip:PCBs| polychlorinated biphenyls; a class of chemicals previously used in manufacturing that remain in the environment for many decades, accumulate in living creatures, and pose health hazards to humans, wildlife, and fish.], [qtip:PAHs|polycyclic 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.], mercury, and lead.
In 1996, the site was designated as a Superfund site by [qtip:EPA| U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; federal agency with the mission to protect human health and safeguard the environment.]. In 1999, approximately 13 acres of the most heavily contaminated marsh areas were excavated, filled, and replanted during an emergency removal action.
In 2016, a $28.6 million settlement was announced to further clean up the marsh. The settlement, between EPA and Honeywell International and Georgia Power Company [qtip:(the responsible parties)|The individuals, companies, or government agencies responsible for an oil spill, hazardous substance release, or ship grounding incident.], requires the companies to remove and isolate contaminated sediments in the marsh and to monitor the long-term effectiveness of the work.
NOAA has and will continue to provide technical input to EPA during the cleanup process.
What Were the Impacts?
Hazardous substances have contaminated over 700 acres of salt marsh habitat, as well as nearby surface water, groundwater, soils, and sediments. This contamination has impacted bottom-dwelling creatures, birds, fish, shellfish, and mammals, with potentially adverse effects on growth, reproduction, and survival. The protected bottlenose dolphin, federally endangered West Indian manatee, and federally threatened wood stork are known to inhabit the impacted area.
Elevated levels of mercury and PCBs have prompted the State of Georgia to issue fish and shellfish [qtip:consumption advisories| A federal, state, or local government recommendation to avoid eating a certain fish or shellfish because it is unsafe due to high levels of contamination.] throughout much of the TBRE.
What’s Happening Now?
NOAA is working cooperatively with the other [qtip:trustees| Government officials acting on behalf of the public when there is injury to, destruction of, loss of, or threat to natural resources.] and Honeywell International (one of five potentially responsible parties) to assess injuries to natural resources.