Gainesville residents are taking legal action for a cleaner community. A federal class
action lawsuit was filed yesterday on behalf of residents and property owners within a
two mile radius of the Cabot/Koppers Superfund site in Northwest Gainesville. The
lawsuit was filed by Stuart Calwell, a lawyer from The Calwell Practice in West
Virginia. The lawsuit seeks remediation for cleaner properties and medical testing.
Calwell says that cleaning up the site and surrounding homes could cost anywhere
from $250 million to $1 billion. The suit also wants to set-up a fund of approximately
$250 million for medical testing of the people who live or have lived in the area.
While the suit has been filed, legal proceedings may take several months.
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|Gainesville, Florida Toxic Contamination Litigation
The Cabot/Koppers Superfund site covers 140 acres bridging two properties. It is
comprised of two sites: the Koppers portion covering 90 acres on the western side,
and the Cabot Carbon portion covering 50 acres on the eastern side.
A wood-treating operation on the Koppers portion of the site, currently operated by
Koppers Industries, has been active since 1916. Cabot Carbon formerly operated a
charcoal production operation on the Cabot Carbon portion. This portion has been
redeveloped and currently contains a commercial shopping mall, car dealership and a
series of smaller stores and businesses.
Two potentially responsible parties (PRPs) are funding the cleanup. Beazer East, Inc.
(Beazer East) is the PRP for the Koppers portion of the site. Cabot Corporation is the
PRP for the Cabot Carbon portion.
Threats and Contaminants
Poor waste handling practices in the past have resulted in contaminated ground
water, soil and possibly off-site surface water. Contaminants include arsenic,
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and creosote compounds.
Site Cleanup Plan
An approved cleanup approach, or Record of Decision (ROD), was signed for the site
in 1990 to address soil and ground water contamination.
The major cleanup approach identified for the Cabot Carbon portion included
installing a ground water trench to intercept contaminated ground water from the
upper surficial aquifer and discharge to the publicly-owned treatment works (POTW).
The cleanup approach also called for additional soil sampling at the former Cabot
wastewater lagoon area and the northeast "wetland lagoon area" near North Main
Street. If necessary, remediation of these areas would be conducted.
The selected cleanup approach for the Koppers portion included excavation and
treatment of contaminated unsaturated soil, soil backfilling and installation of a
groundwater pump and treat system in the surficial aquifer.
Both parties have conducted investigations and have completed several cleanup
actions. In 1985, an initial surface water interceptor system was installed on the
Cabot Carbon property to intercept phenol-contaminated surface water from entering
the Main Street ditch, thereby preventing it from contaminating downgradient
In 1994, contaminated sediment was excavated from the Northeast Lagoon.
In June 1995, Cabot Carbon completed construction of the final trench which
intercepts contaminated ground water from the shallow aquifer and discharges it to
A surficial ground water pump/treat system was constructed on the Koppers property
in February 1994. Operation of the system began in August 1995.
Removal of contaminated soils on the Koppers property, as required in the 1990
ROD, was delayed when additional investigation identified unknown sources of dense
nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPLs) and dioxin-contaminated soils within the
Koppers property. Treatability studies also showed that the selected remedy specified
in the 1990 ROD could not reach the soil cleanup criteria specified in the ROD.
As a result of the discovery, Beazer East prepared a Supplemental Feasibility Study in
1999, addressing the DNAPLs and dioxin contamination. The Feasibility Study was
revised by EPA in 2000. In 2001, EPA drafted a proposed plan for a containment
remedy at the Koppers portion, which was rescinded in 2001 due to technical
concerns related to the ground water conceptual model.
In late 2001, further investigation of ground water below the surficial aquifer was
conducted. In 2002, migration of contaminants into the intermediate aquifer, known
as the Hawthorn Group was discovered. Starting in 2003, Floridan aquifer
monitoring wells were installed and sampled. Contamination was discovered in the
aquifer located beneath the intermediate aquifer, known as the Floridan aquifer in
In late 2005, Beazer East began installing a network of deeper Floridan wells in the
Upper Transmissive Zone. The first sampling results became available in spring
2006, which showed contamination within the Koppers property boundary. In
November 2006, Beazer East began drilling Floridan wells in the Lower
Transmissive Zone to serve as sentinel wells at the property boundary. These wells
primarily showed no contamination at the site boundaries in the Floridan aquifer.
Starting in late 2004, Beazer also conducted a number of studies evaluating the
feasibility of implementing removal and treatment technologies to remediate surficial
ground water and soils at the site. Additional Operable Units (OUs) for the
Cabot/Koppers site were designated (Cabot: OU-1; Koppers surficial: OU-2; Koppers
Hawthorn Group: OU-3; Koppers Floridan aquifer: OU-4).
Using all available information, EPA began conducting a Feasibility Study (FS) at
OU-2, scheduled to be completed in late 2006. Beazer East proposed a collaborative
approach to formulating an FS for all OUs, and EPA put previous separate FS
efforts on hold pending a successful conclusion of the collaborative FS approach.
Starting in October 2007, several meetings between EPA, Beazer East and other
stakeholders were held to screen applicable technologies for all OUs. At the meeting
held in August 2008, stakeholders began firming up compliance details and refining
technology alternatives in preparation for choosing one site-wide Koppers
On June 23, 2008, Beazer East also submitted a proposed probabilistic risk
assessment approach for soil and sediment. Florida Department of Environmental
Protection and EPA provided preliminary comments on the proposed approach in
July and August 2008. Beazer East has installed and sampled two sentinel wells
between the Koppers portion and the Gainesville Regional Utility Murphee wellfield.
Sampling results showed no detection of Site-related contaminants. Beazer East
installed an interim remedial measure in the surficial aquifer which doubles the
current pumping rate and removes contaminated groundwater from recovery
trenches directly next to the four principal source areas. Beazer East utilized
contaminated soils from recovery trench installation and on-Site Koppers drainage
ditch excavation sediments in a pilot soil solidification/stabilization project in the
In 1991, Cabot Carbon signed a Consent Decree to perform the cleanup on the
former Cabot plant property and to repay its share of past costs. Koppers Industries
(Beazer East) refused to sign a Consent Decree, but agreed to perform the cleanup on
their property under a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO). In 1991, the UAO was
issued to Koppers and Beazer East, which was later amended in 1994.
Gainesville citizens began showing interest in the site prior to its listing on the
National Priorities List (NPL). During 1989-1990 EPA held a number of informal
meetings with concerned local citizens to discuss various issues and listen to their
The formal public comment period for the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study
was held in August-September 1990. A related public meeting was held during this
A public notice was issued on January 2006 by EPA to notify the community of the
second Five-Year Review for the site. The notice was published in the Gainesville Sun
EPA awarded Alachua County $108,000 through a cooperative agreement to conduct
a sediment sampling in Springstead and Hogtown Creek, and stormwater sampling
study to address community concerns related to stormwater runoff and creek
contamination from a breaching of Cabot lagoons. Sediment sampling and analysis
were submitted in a May 12, 2009 Report from Alachua County EPD.
On June 11, 2009, EPA representatives along with FDEP, Florida Department of
Health, Alachua County EPD, Beazer East, and Koppers participated in a public
availability session at the Stephen Foster Elementary School to discuss results of
February 2009 off-site soil sampling results with area residents.
On March 2009, EPA Region 4, Beazer East, and FDEP representatives participated
in a special Gainesville City Commission meeting to discuss soil cleanup standards
and future possible land reuse scenarios for the Koppers portion of the site in the
event that the current Koppers wood-treatment facility ceases operations at some
point in the future. EPA Region 4 participated in a similar joint City of Gainesville
Commission/Alachua County Commission public meeting in May 2008.
Cabot-Koppers Reuse Fact Sheet (PDF)
EPA expects to issue a draft Feasibility Study for the Koppers portion of the site by
late Augustl 2009 and issue a final Record of Decision by November 2009.
As part of the 2006 Five-Year Review recommendations for the Cabot Carbon portion
of the site, Cabot had to undertake an additional remedial investigation and
interceptor trench effectiveness evaluation to assure that the interceptor trench
continues to be effective in remediating contaminants attributable to the Cabot
Carbon portion of the site. If the additional Cabot study indicates that the interceptor
trench does not continue to be protective, a ROD amendment will be necessary for
the Cabot Carbon portion.
Site Administrative Documents
For more information or to view any site related documents, please visit the site
information repository at the following location. As new documents are generated,
they will be placed in the information repository for public information.
Alachua County Library
401 E. University Ave.
Gainesville, FL 32601