Domtar to distribute sand cap in Welch Creek near its pulp mill in Plymouth, North Carolina, under EPA supervision to reduce uptake of contaminants by fish, aquatic life

WASHINGTON , October 24, 2011 (press release) – The current owner, Domtar Corporation, will perform the work with oversight by EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR). EPA selected the remedy after consultation with other federal and state agencies and consideration of public comments. The work is expected to be completed by March 2012.

The purpose of the sand cap is to reduce the uptake of contaminants by fish and other aquatic organisms. The sand cap along with natural recovery is expected to contribute to the eventual lifting of the current fish consumption advisory for catfish and carp in Welch Creek. The sand cap will be installed on about one mile of the creek bottom beginning just downstream of the railroad trestle over the Creek.

The sand will be distributed from a barge operating in the creek. The sand will be installed in several passes and will be approximately 2-4 inches thick. The barge will move along cables installed across the creek in the work area. The cables will be marked with buoys and/or lights and the cables will be removed once construction is complete.

Although access to Welch Creek is already somewhat limited from the Roanoke River, boaters should expect to find silt curtains and heavy equipment prohibiting further access downstream of the railroad trestle or upstream of the Main Street Bridge during the construction.

During construction, water quality will be monitored with turbidity meters and the chemical testing of surface water samples. The pace of the work may be modified based upon the monitoring results. In addition, there will be long term monitoring of the cap and conditions in Welch Creek as part of the remedy.

The 2,400-acre Weyerhaeuser Company Plymouth Wood Treating Plant site is an active wood pulp mill located near the confluence of Welch Creek and the Roanoke River in Plymouth, Martin County, North Carolina. The site began operations under the Kieckhefer-Eddy Company in 1937, was owned and operated by the Weyerhaeuser Company from 1957 until 2007, and is currently owned and operated by Domtar Corporation.

The site is not listed on the National Priorities List (NPL), but is considered to be an NPL-caliber site and is being addressed through the Superfund Alternative Approach. This approach uses the same investigation and cleanup process and standards that are used for sites listed on the NPL.

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