General Electric has started work on a new PCB-removal effort along Little Dry Creek near Martha Berry Boulevard.
The company has installed a haul road and the first erosion and sedimentation fencing and expects to start soil removal next week. PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in manufacturing the medium transformers at the GE plant on Redmond Circle from 1952 to the late 1970s, when it was linked to the risk of cancer and banned by Congress.
Cody Platt, the Rome GE facility manager, said the Horseleg Creek and Little Dry Creek drainage basins, where stormwater from the plant tended to flow, have been impacted the most.
The new work area is between John Davenport Drive and Little Dry Creek, on the opposite side of the creek from an area that was the focus of attention last year. Over the next four months, crews are expected to remove 10,000 tons of soil from the south side of the creek. The bad soil will be taken to a licensed materials handling facility.
If the soil contains more than 50 parts per million of PCBs, it will go to a hazardous waste facility in Emelle, Alabama, southwest of Tuscaloosa.
“If the PCBs are at a concentration less than 50 parts per million — and that’s the vast majority of the spoil in the work we’re doing this year — that will go to Waste Management’s non-hazardous Subtitle D landfill in Ballground, Georgia,” Platt said.
The work is being done in what are typically the driest months of the year to permit consistent access to the site and mitigate potential runoff in the event of rain.
GE will then fill the site to its proper elevation and replant grass, shrubs and native trees after the soil removal is finished.
Platt said the trucks will leave the remediation area through the Summerville Park community, just as they did last year.
The company will work with the hauling contractors to promote traffic safety and try to minimize congestion in the area.
The PCBs are thought to have remained in the soil for decades. For the past 24 years, GE has operated a stormwater system on the plant site that collects and treats the runoff.
“We capture the water, we treat it and then we discharge it as overland flow,” Platt said. “We sample the treated stormwater and we do not detect any PCBs in it.”
He could not say how much money has been spent on remediation efforts over the last two and a half decades.