The South Charleston Facility and Kanawha River site is located on both the southern bank and Blaine Island of the Kanawha River in West Virginia. Blaine Island is between North and South Charleston. While South Charleston is not identified as a disadvantaged community, North Charleston is identified as an Environmental Justice community. South Charleston's population's income is less than or equal to twice the federal poverty level with higher housing and energy costs. With climate change the area is projected to be at an elevated risk to flooding. The population is characterized by increased asthma, diabetes, and heart disease diagnoses, along with a lower life expectancy. The area is also in the 99th percentile in terms of risk management plan facilities within 5 km.
As part of an ESA Sect 7 consultation, the owner of the facility, Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) conducted mussel surveys in 2018 and 2019 in the Kanawha River. These surveys discovered federally listed and proposed species in this location for the first time. Also in 2018, UCC discovered that non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) was being released from their site into the river. In its capacity as a trustee for natural resources, the State of West Virginia (acting through its Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR)) and DOI (acting through FWS) initiated a NRDAR in summer 2021 (See Preliminary Assessment Screen and Determination and Notice of Intent to Conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment). As part of the NRDA, FWS conducted a 12-week mussel toxicity test using sediment samples collected from the site as well as upstream which demonstrated high toxicity in the proposed area of sediment remediation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a corrective action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at the facility. The Trustees are closely coordinating with EPA and the ongoing Section 7 consultation for federally listed mussels.
In Spring 2023, the Trustees finalized the Assessment Plan after a period for public review and comment. Pursuant to the Assessment Plan, in May of 2023 the Trustees initiated assessment activities to investigate injury to fish, benthic macroinvertebrates, and freshwater mussels, including a federally listed species. Other resources under investigation for injury include supporting habitat for natural resources, surface water, and groundwater. The Assessment is ongoing.