EPA rep to hear creosote concerns

Contamination site will be subject of Jan. 14 meeting

A representative of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to meet with the DeRidder City Council next month to address concerns over a contaminated site just south of the city in Beauregard Parish.

Community Involvement Coordinator Janetta Coats will appear before the council Jan. 14, and is expected to discuss the development of a Community Involvement Plan to address the needs and concerns of the community in regards to the site.

Declared by the EPA as an American Creosote Site, the 55-acre tract of land now owned by Central Manufacturing Company is the site of historical timber treatment operations from the 1920s until about 1945.

According to the EPA, those treatment processes have resulted in the contamination of the site by “creosote-related compounds.”

The EPA first announced it was seeking to place the DeRidder site on a prioritized “superfund” site list in 2017 to accelerate the clean-up process of the area. Superfund sites qualify for federal assistance in the cleanup process.

In January of this year, the EPA confirmed the site had been officially added to the prioritized list. That news has pushed some concerns over the past year to levels of fear that local communities could be at risk for water contamination. DeRidder water officials, however, say that the city’s water supply remains safe for consumption.

Utilities superintendent Roy Keen told the American Press that regular checks are performed on the city’s water supply to screen for any harmful components, and that samples are collected daily for analysis. Twice a month, Keen said, the testing is completed at a lab for an intensive reading.

“The city has not had a positive return on any testing in the past 12 years,” Keen stated.

While residual chemicals such as chlorine are revealed in each testing, Keen said anything that would affect the pH levels of the drinking water would be detected almost immediately.

To back that testing up, Keen said the city’s testing is regularly reviewed by both the EPA and the Department of Health and Hospitals. He said EPA representatives visit the city’s well sites annually to conduct their own evaluations, and the DHH every three years. Those visits will be increased to once a year in 2019, according to state law revisions.

The DeRidder superfund site will be the 28th such site in the state, with over 1,300 sites recognized nationally.

According to a release from the EPA, the process to develop a Community Involvement Plan could take months.

””Contaminated site graphic