Old ordnance plant put on Superfund list

mstucka@macon.comMay 21, 2013 

Middle Georgia has a new Superfund hazardous waste site, but the contamination is nothing new.

The former Macon Naval Ordnance Plant was named to the Superfund list Tuesday, meaning it’s now considered a federal high-priority site. The Superfund site incorporates most of Macon’s Allied Industrial Park.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said a plume of trichloroethylene is moving toward the wetlands around Rocky Creek. The “widespread soil contamination” includes pesticides, heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium, and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. Many of those contaminants are believed to cause cancer.

The new Superfund site encompasses about 433 acres, which the Department of Defense used to manufacture ordnance, explosives and detonators between 1941 and 1965. After that time, the property was sold to Maxson Electronics Corp., which continued to make ordnance there until 1973. The site was used to manufacture seat belts until 1981, when the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority took over the site, turning it into an industrial park.

The Department of Defense has claimed the adjacent Armstrong World Industries location -- already undergoing a Superfund cleanup -- may have caused some of the pollution. Unimax, the successor company to Maxson Electronics, has maintained that the Environmental Protection Agency bungled testing and that the site doesn’t qualify for Superfund status.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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