SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard today announced the agencies will begin removing millions of gallons of hazardous materials and toxic sludge from the former Samoa Pulp Mill site in Samoa, Calif. as part of a joint cleanup effort. 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 today at the site, located near Eureka, Calif.
“Removing this massive toxic legacy from the Humboldt Bay shoreline will ensure the safety of residents and protection for the environment and wildlife,” said Regional Administrator Blumenfeld. “The livelihood of thousands of Northern Californians relies on the health of this bay, so it is critical we begin this clean up now.”
“Protecting the sensitive habitats and economic values of Humboldt Bay and the Pacific Ocean from these caustic chemicals is a top priority,” Congressman Huffman said. “I am thrilled with the quick response from the community and from the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, the EPA, and the U.S. Coast Guard in handling what otherwise could have led to the disastrous pollution of these precious resources.”
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.
'The EPA and Coast Guard, as well as other state, local, and commercial partners, will work diligently to resolve this environmental challenge,” said Captain Stump. “It is clear that a coordinated and collaborative response is essential to effectively and efficiently handle, transport, and dispose of the hazardous material, and to reduce threats to the public and environment.'
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 20-30. Sites range in complexity from chemical waste dumps to residential yards contaminated with legacy mining waste.
For more information about EPA’s Samoa Pulp Mill cleanup activities, visit: http://www.epaosc.org/site/site_profile.aspx?site_id=8891
For more information about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region’s Superfund Emergency Response Program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/disaster/emerresponse.html