Harriman site named as a Superfund site by EPA

Harriman site named as a Superfund site by EPA

The site is on the Emory River, just downstream from Harriman High School. (Source: Google) The site is on the Emory River, just downstream from Harriman High School. (Source: Google)

HARRIMAN (WATE) - The site of a former pulp and paper mill in Harriman has been listed as a hazardous waste site and added to the EPA's list of priorities within the Superfund program.

The site in question is the former home of the Clinch River Corporation, which sits on about 30 acres of land on the banks of the Emory River/Watts Barr Reservoir.

The site has been added to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites.

Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country.

The EPA identifies the companies or people responsible for the clean up and requires them to either clean up the site or pay to have it cleaned up.

According to the agency, Clinch River Corporation operated as a pulp and paper mill from 1929 until 2002.

Byproducts of the manufacturing process include spent processing liquids, also called "black liquor", coal tar constituents, and piles of wastepaper.

The EPA cites previous investigations which found extensive contamination in surface and below-surface soil and shallow ground water.

Contamination includes elevated concentrations of site-related hazardous substances, like dioxins, furans, PAHs, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and various metals in surface and sub-surface soil.

Investigators said contaminants have also been found in sediment and fish tissue within the Emory River/Watts Barr Reservoir.

The EPA is concerned about contamination in the fish populations. The agency says almost 55,000 lbs. of fish are captured each year from recreational and subsistence fishers in the area.

Three endangered species of mussels also live in the river and reservoir.

In September 2011, the EPA conducted an emergency removal at the site, taking 63 drums of hazardous material, contaminated soil from the drum storage area, and 20,000 gallons of black liquor from the site.

The state of Tennessee referred the site to the EPA for a more comprehensive clean-up.

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