Georgia-Pacific Corp. (GP) owned and operated this industrial facility located at 1975 Watkins Road in Columbus, Ohio, in Franklin County since 1970. In 2005, Georgia-Pacific Resins, Inc. was purchased by Koch Industries, Inc. and became Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC. Formaldehyde and synthetic resins for fertilizers, insulation and the auto industry are manufactured at the facility. Acetone, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol (methanol) and phenol are used in the manufacturing processes. Ohio EPA has documented formaldehyde/phenol releases into the atmosphere, phenol/methanol spills into nearby drainage ditches and methanol leaks from an underground transfer pipeline into the ground water.
An administrative consent order with GP for an interim remedial action to address the underground transfer pipeline methanol release was journalized on Oct. 29, 1990. In January 1991, GP began the interim action cleanup with the installation of ground water recovery wells around the underground methanol transfer pipeline. The collected groundwater/ methanol was pumped into the sanitary sewer line under GP's existing pre-treatment permit. In December 1991, the methanol recovery operation ceased. On Feb. 7, 1992, Ohio EPA determined that GP had fulfilled the terms of the 1990 consent order and terminated the order.
In May 1984, the Columbus Public Health sampled 15 residential water wells in the vicinity of GP and detected a low level of phenol in one of the water wells. In November 1990, the Columbus Public Health sampled five residential water wells along Watkins Road and detected low levels of phenol in several of the wells. The levels detected in both of these sampling events were below the U.S. EPA Lifetime Health Advisory limit for phenol of 2 parts per million (ppm). There is no federal drinking water standard for phenol.
In March 1992, Ohio EPA sampled the same five wells. Phenol was again detected at levels below the U.S. EPA Lifetime Health Advisory limit. In December 1996, Ohio EPA sampled seven residential water wells along Watkins Road and did not detect phenol above the laboratory analysis detection limits of 0.010 ppm.
An administrative consent order with GP to perform an environmental assessment of the site by completing a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) was journalized on Dec. 22, 1994
In August 1995, the RI/FS Work Plan was approved by Ohio EPA. In March 1997, Technical Memorandum No. 1, summarizing the RI Phase I results and detailing future work activities, was approved by Ohio EPA. In June 1997, a RI Phase II work plan, detailing further investigation for the remaining areas of concern, was received. On Sept. 10, 1997, after the RI Phase I was completed, but before the start of the RI Phase II, a batch kettle reactor in GP’s resin process area exploded.
This September 1997 explosion released a phenol/formaldehyde resin mixture over the grounds of the site and onto a limited area of the adjacent Sherwin-Williams property. Several above-ground chemical storage tanks, process piping and water were also damaged by the explosion. During the subsequent emergency response (ER) activities to stabilize conditions at the site, many of the proposed RI Phase II activities were completed by GP. These ER activities included collecting 35 on-site soil samples and 13 soil samples at Sherwin-Williams, installing 11 shallow and two deep ground water monitoring wells, controlling the on-site perched ground water and removing the explosion damaged facility structures. The ER activities were completed in November 1998 with the reconstruction of the resin process area.
In October 1999, the revised RI Phase II work plan was approved by Ohio EPA. The RI Phase II began in January 1999 and was completed in April 2001 with the installation of two new ground water monitoring wells and the collection of additional ground water and soil samples.
In September 2001, the RI Report, which includes a risk exposure assessment and the results of the GP site investigation, was approved by Ohio EPA. In April 2002, the feasibility study (FS) report, which provides an analysis of the remedial alternatives for the site, was approved by Ohio EPA.
In January 2006, Ohio EPA completed the Preferred Plan, which used the RI and FS reports to select the preferred alternative for the remediation of the GP site. On March 14, 2006, Ohio EPA held a public hearing on the Preferred Plan (Attachment 2). The public comment period for the Preferred Plan was from Feb. 10, 2006, through April 24, 2006. Ohio EPA prepared a responsiveness summary that addressed the comments received during the public comment period (and is included in the Decision Document). The Decision Document (Attachment 3), which documented the selected alternative for remediation of the GP site, was issued on Oct. 31, 2006. The remedial design/remedial action (RD/RA) consent order (Attachment 4) between Ohio EPA and GP was journalized on Feb. 9, 2010.
Photograph 1: Aerial view looking south after the Sept. 10, 1997, plant explosion.
Photograph 2: Aerial view looking west after the Sept. 10, 1997, plant explosion.
Photograph 3: Aerial view taken on April 1, 2001, showing the plant after the completed reconstruction.
Photograph 4: View looking southwest from Watkins Road at the plant site, July 11, 2003.