The Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corporation (Ciba-Geigy) began production of the pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in the early 1950s at a facility in McIntosh, Alabama, adjacent to the Tombigbee River. Ciba-Geigy subsequently produced many other chemicals at this facility over its operational history. Hazardous substances, including DDT and DDT-isomers, generated by Ciba-Geigy at the McIntosh facility were disposed of at the site and released into the Tombigbee River. Hazardous substances released into Tombigbee River floodplain habitats were distributed downstream into the Tombigbee River. Ciba-Geigy (including its McIntosh facility) was acquired by BASF in 2009.
Elevated concentrations of DDT and DDT-isomers were documented in biota on-site and in sediment and biota samples collected from the Tombigbee River. Concentrations of DDT and DDT-related compounds were documented as frequently exceeding levels potentially toxic to fish, wildlife, and humans. Resources of concern in these ecologically important areas include water, fish, shellfish, wildlife, including migratory birds, and several federally threatened or endangered species. The Trustees for these potentially affected natural resources are the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the Department of the Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Geological Survey of Alabama (collectively, Trustees). The Trustees initiated a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§1906 et seq. (CERCLA) to assess and quantify the natural resource injuries and losses from releases at or from the site and the natural resource damages appropriate to compensate for such injuries.
BASF and the Trustees agreed to terms for settlement for natural resource damages under CERCLA. A Consent Decree setting forth the terms of this settlement was signed by the parties and lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Southern Division in July 2013. The Court approved that Consent Decree on October 2, 2013. Under that settlement, the Trustees jointly recovered $3,200,000 for use to plan, implement, conduct, finance and oversee one or more restoration actions or projects within the Mobile Bay Watershed appropriate to restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of natural resources or services like those injured or lost including bottomland hardwood forest habitat and biota dependent on that habitat.
The Trustees prepared a Draft Restoration Plan (RP)/Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) (Draft RP/PEA) evaluating the suitability of several restoration type alternatives to pursue with the settlement funds described above. The Draft RP/PEA was made it available to the public during a 45-day public comment period which started on January 13th, 2017. A public meeting was also conducted at the McIntosh Town Hall in McIntosh, Alabama on January 31st, 2017, to facilitate public input on the proposed restoration alternative types presented in the Draft RP/PEA. Following the public comment period, the Trustees considered all input and revised the Draft RP/PEA accordingly to produce a Final RP/PEA which is available below.