There are sixteen contaminated sites in Georgia on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priority List. The site of the former Woolfork Chemical Plant outside Fort Valley will receive $5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to complete its clean-up.
Fort Valley Mayor Dr. John Stumbo:
The Woolfolk Chemical Plant started operations there in about 1924. They made agricultural pesticides that were arsenic lace. In those days, of course, there was no air conditioning and because of the heat, most of the mixing of this dry material was done in sheds that simply had a roof and no side walls. So, as the winds blew through there, it would carry this contaminated dust all over the area. The second company came in there in the 1970s, they were called Canada in Georgia, and they were doing the same thing.
The 31-acre Woolfork site sits close to downtown Fort Valley and near Fort Valley State University. This site has long been seen as the hope for revitalization of downtown Fort Valley. The Woolfork site was deemed eligible for the Superfund program in 1990. Since then more than $27 million has gone in to cleaning up the chemical contamination.
In the early 1980s, citizen complaints prompted the Georgia environmental officials to investigate Woolfolk amid allegations of discharge of waste products into a drainage corridor heading away from the site. No injuries have been reported but one lawsuit forced a former Woolfolk owner to reimburse residents for declining property values.Today, according to the EPA, all excavation of arsenic from residential soil is complete, as well as the removal of arsennic contaminated dust from residential attics.
Mayor Stumbo offers his take on Life After Superfund here.