Olin Corp., citing a near-perfect compliance history involving the cleanup of mercury sludge at its Richmond County chemical plant, wants state authorities to relax stringent monitoring requirements.
"Basically, we've asked for some relief on some of the things we have to do quarterly," said Harry Wade, environmental manager at the 506-acre plant. Georgia's Environmental Protection Division is evaluating the request.
In the plant's early years, before federal laws regulated disposal of toxic chemicals, mercury sludge dumped at the plant site seeped into groundwater and was suspected of contaminating the Savannah River.
Today, as Olin's cleanup program enters its third decade, the toxic landfills have long since been closed. Treatments to filter groundwater operate continuously. The remaining mercury is contained on site, and more than 100 test wells monitor the quality and flow of groundwater.
Mr. Wade said that monitoring, which shows a pattern of successful treatment and containment of the problem, is the basis of the company's request to EPD to modify Olin's cleanup permit - and allow less reporting.
"The request is to modify our permit to remove some of the analytical sampling and testing requirements," he said. "To do this, we have reviewed the history of sampling and results back for 5 years or more."
Because the request involves a change on Olin's environmental permit, the company will hold a public meeting to discuss the plan with any interested parties. That meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Olin plant.
The cleanup is scheduled to continue until 2017, although the use of newer technology could enable the completion of the program by 2001. According to EPD records, Olin likely will spend $1.5 million for future monitoring programs and about $3.25 million in remaining cleanup costs.
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