One of the most significant projects impacting Jacksonville’s Eastside and surrounding areas is the Kerr-McGee Chemical site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed
the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2010, because of contaminated soil and ground water. The NPL catalogs the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous wastesites under Superfund.
The Kerr-McGee Chemical site is located at 1611 Talleyrand Avenue, and occupies 31 acres along the western shoreline of the St. John’s River. The site is roughly rectangular in shape and spans 1800 feet east to west, and 900 feet north to south. It is a part of one of Jacksonville’s heavily industrialized areas, located just south of the Port of Jacksonville (JAXPORT)marine terminal. The area is surrounded by both commercial and residential properties.
| (Times-Union Jacksonville–Drawing of former
Wilson & Toomer fertilizer plant)
From 1893 to 1978, the land was used as a fertilizer and pesticide formulating, packaging, and distributing plant. The plant had been long known to be owned and operated by Wilson & Toomer Fertilizer Co., until 1971 when Kerr-McGee bought the property. The facilities included a formulator building, a pesticide storage warehouse, and an herbicide building. Demolition of these buildings occurred over several years ending in 1989.
While open, Kerr-McGee blended and produced chemicals including aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, benzene hexachloride (BHC), endosulfan, heptachlor, methoxychlor, malathion and toxaphene. Much of these chemicals seeped into the soil and surrounding ground and surface water. As a result, 1984 to present under the jurisdiction of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the potentially responsible party (Kerr-McGee Chemical LLC.) conducted numerous site tests and studies, confirming the presence of volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and metals in the soils; including arsenic and lead. Due to the chemicals found on the site, health officials in Jacksonville have identified a list of health concerns perceived to be caused and/or enhanced by the chemicals found on the site, including: allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cancer, diabetes, kidney problems, low birth weight, miscarriages, nerve damage, skin problems, and stroke.
In 2003, Kerr-McGee LLC. sold the property to Tronox LLC, which acquired the responsibility of site cleanup. However, due to the high costs of such a project, Tronox was forced to file bankruptcy. As a result, funding for the site clean-up halted, causing a delay in the efforts. In 2014, a settlement was reached and a trust fund was acquired for the site. The EPA is now working with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. In addition, the EPA plans to begin clean-up once a site plan has been issued.
(Jacksonville Business Journal– Chain link
fence surrounding site)
Currently, the land sits desolate, with a maintenance worker responsible for upkeep. A large 6- foot tall, chain link fence surrounds the property, displaying no-trespass signs throughout.
Although there are no future plans for the site, the contaminants still pose a threat to anyone located on the property, including any future workers, as long as the site remains contaminated. Once cleaned up however, the area possesses the ability to contribute to the area’s economy.
“The Eastside Environmental Council is a Guardian Angel for my Community Village.”
— Ariane L. Randolph
“What you do can be good or it can be bad but when it comes to the consequences ethier way your happy or sad.”
— Mrs. I. Bowlson
“A community with disparity has very little to learn because they live it graciously with a lot of equity they’ve earned so if you visit one, a community that’s in despair just pull up a chair and ask them what is going on they’ll take you there.”
— Mrs. W. Wright