From 1919 to 1994, the LCP Chemical site (Site) was occupied by a series of industrial operations. An oil refinery, power plant, and chlor-alkali facility released multiple hazardous substances into the surrounding area. Contamination has been found in Purvis Creek, Turtle River, Brunswick River, and surrounding salt marsh, all of which are part of the Turtle-Brunswick River Estuary (TBRE). The TBRE supports a diverse ecosystem and species such as the protected bottlenose dolphin, federally-threatened West Indian manatee, and federally-threatened wood stork are known to inhabit the impacted area. Primary contaminants are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), mercury, and lead. In 1996, the Site was designated as a Superfund site by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An emergency removal action that excavated, filled, and replanted approximately 13 acres of heavily contaminated marsh was completed in 1999. A $28.6 million settlement was reached in 2016 between the responsible parties Honeywell International and Georgia Power Company and the EPA. This settlement requires the responsible parties to address the remaining contamination by removing and isolating contaminated sediments in the marsh and to monitor the long-term effectiveness of that work.
Hazardous substances have contaminated over 700 acres of salt marsh habitat at the Site. Natural resources under trusteeship of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (collectively the "Trustees") that have been exposed to these hazardous substances and, potentially injured as a result, include surface water, groundwater, sediments, soils, fish, wildlife, and other biota. For organisms, this contamination may have adverse effects on growth, reproduction, and survival. Elevated levels of PCBs have been reported in bottlenose dolphins and their preferred fish prey species living in the TRBE near the Site. In addition, elevated levels of mercury and PCBs have prompted the State of Georgia to issue fish and shellfish consumption advisories for various portions of the TBRE as early as 1992. Consumption advisories persist today. As a result of these elevated contaminant concentrations and subsequent advisories, the public’s recreational use of natural resources (i.e., recreational fishing) in the vicinity of the LCP site has also been impacted.
The Trustees are working to assess injuries to natural resources. Because cleanup of contaminants (remediation) at the LCP site is ongoing, natural resource injury is still occurring and natural resource recovery timeframes remain uncertain. The Trustees continue to review information from the EPA clean up process (remediation) about levels of contamination at the site, potential pathways of exposure to natural resources, and progress on the marsh remedy. NOAA is currently focused on evaluating injuries to resident dolphins in the TBRE and are in the early stages of collecting and analyzing data.