KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Environmental Protection Agency will soon begin environmental cleanup efforts at a 13-acre site in Knoxville contaminated by hazardous waste.
The Smokey Mountain Smelters site at 1508 Maryville Pike is considered a “Superfund” site by the EPA, or an area contaminated by hazardous waste from previous industrial operations. It is located near the Montgomery Village apartments and some single-family homes.
The EPA placed the land on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 2010 because of contaminated soils, sediment and surface water resulting from past industrial operations in the area.
With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, remediation of the site will begin this month and is expected to be completed by November. The cleanup could mean the site may soon be ready for reuse and redevelopment.
According to EPA Remedial Project Manager Peter Johnson, there are currently two existing waste piles.
EPA officials held a public meeting to discuss the remediation efforts at the site Monday at the South Knoxville Community Center.
At the event, they talked about the three-step remedial process of the site:
• Soil capping
• Groundwater treatment
“We are moving the smaller waste pile onto the larger waste pile. The second phase is installing an engineered cap on top of that waste pile,” Johnson said. “And the third phase is groundwater treatment in the northeast part of the property that will address on-site water contamination.”
Residents in the area should expect an increase in heavy equipment traffic on and around Maryville Pike, Caleb Avenue SW and Joe Lewis Road.
Fertilizer and agricultural companies operated at the site from the 1920s to the 1960s. Smokey Mountain Smelters operated a secondary aluminum smelting operation at the site from 1979 to 1994.
An EPA release said the Tennessee Division of Solid Waste Management issued a notice to Smokey Mountain Smelters after concluding that the site was “unsuitable for use as an industrial landfill.” However, landfilling continued to occur on-site for several years.
The Knox County Department for Air Pollution Control documented numerous citizen complaints regarding excessive air emissions from the site and cited Smokey Mountain Smelters for several air quality violations in the 1980s.
Short-term cleanup actions have been completed to stop immediate threats, including repairing the fence and removing a portion of on-site waste.