SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 11, 2014 -- Millions of gallons of hazardous materials and toxic sludge are being removed from the former Samoa Pulp Mill site in Samoa, Calif., as part of a joint cleanup effort between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard.
EPA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, Jared Blumenfeld, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA-2), and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Sector San Francisco Commander Captain Gregory Stump, announced the cleanup at a ceremony held at the site located near Eureka, Calif., on Friday, March 28.
From its investigation, EPA determined all storage tanks holding the hazardous waste were leaking or failing, and several of the tanks posed an immediate risk to human health and the environment due to potential runoff from the site to Humboldt Bay, which is only 800 feet from the site. Waste from the site will be trucked to a facility in Longview, Wash., for treatment and reuse. Following site cleanup, the Harbor District of Humboldt Bay plans to reuse the site for aquaculture purposes, including the oyster and caviar farming.
Approximately 20 tanks containing 3 million gallons of highly-caustic liquids, 10,000 gallons of various acids, 10,000 tons of corrosive sludge, 3,000 gallons of turpentine, several laboratories with approximately 1,000 containers of a wide range of chemicals, and several thousand containers of various types will be removed as part of the effort.
The former Samoa Pulp Mill site is a 70-acre industrial pulp manufacturing facility that had been in operation from 1963 until 2008. After preparations for a potential resumption of mill activities failed in August 2013, the site was sold to the harbor district. Shortly thereafter, EPA was contacted by the district for assistance to assess the site under the Agency's emergency cleanup program.
EPA's Pacific Southwest Region's Superfund Emergency Response Program responds to environmental disasters, hazardous materials releases and inland oil spills that threaten human health and/or the environment throughout the region. The program participates, on average, in 25 hazardous waste cleanups every year, in addition to several oil spills, and investigates another 20 to 30. Sites range in complexity from chemical waste dumps to residential yards contaminated with legacy mining waste.