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The Clinch River Corp., the former pulp and paper mill in Harriman, is one of eight hazardous waste sites the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add to the list of National Priorities List for cleanup under the Superfund program.
Harriman officials have been vying for the designation because the cleanup of the property is likely to be costly.
“I think it is fantastic,” said Councilman Buddy Holley, who spearheaded the most recent effort to get the site cleaned up.
Holley communicated often with a local EPA retiree and government officials to gather information and support for the project.
He was optimistic the EPA may soon get moving on the cleanup.
Holley said he’s talked to local representation at the federal level for support.
“I’m hopeful we’ll get stuff started. We’ve been dragging it out forever,” he said.
“I’d like to see them start on it next year. I got quite a bit of encouragement from EPA they would start on it pretty soon,” he added.
Officials want to use the facility to extend Harriman Riverfront Park.
“TVA did a study, and that was kind of the idea, extend the park around,” Mayor Chris Mason said.
Mason said walking trails and some use of the waterfront, including potentially a floating marina, would be ideal.
Holley has similar ideas, including a boat launching area, because there isn’t one nearby to get on the Emory River.
The Superfund is a federal program that investigates and cleans up properties believed to pose a public health and environmental risk.
The 12 sites listed by EPA being put on the NPL and eight recommended to be put on the list have all received letters of support from their respective states.
“Cleaning up contamination is vitally important to the health of America’s communities,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Putting clean land back into productive use leads to increases in property values, generates new jobs and creates a stronger local economy that will strengthen these communities for years to come.”
Contaminates found at the sites include acetone, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, copper, dichlorethene, hexavalent chromium, lead, mercury, methyl ethyl ketone, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, tetrachloroethylene, pentachlorophenol, trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, xylene and zinc, some of which have been linked to cancers
The EPA works to identify those responsible for the contamination at the sites to require them to conduct or pay for cleanup.
Clinch River Corp., while listed in the news release from EPA, was not the only operators of the papermill on the property.