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Case: Ciba, AL

Elevated DDT levels were found in fish and sediments within the Tombigbee River environment adjacent to the McIntosh facility. (NOAA) NOAA and natural resource co-trustees provided technical assistance to USEPA for cleanup actions on the Tombigbee River floodplain at the McIntosh facility, shown above. (NOAA)

McIntosh, AL (located on the Tombigbee River)


Case status:

The trustees initiated a cooperative natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) with the responsible party in 2005. A settlement was reached in October 2013, which provides $3.7 million for restoration. The trustees will develop a restoration plan with proposed projects, which will be released for public review and comment.

Site history:

The Ciba-Giergy Corporation's McIntosh Plant site covers a 1,500 acre area located on the Tombigbee River, about 50 miles north of Mobile, AL. Beginning in the 1950s, the facility manufactured DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), a pesticide used to combat disease-carrying insects, as well as other pesticides, herbicides and various agricultural and industrial chemicals. During those years, hazardous chemicals from the facility's production operations were released into unlined pits on the property and discharged into the adjacent floodplain and river. In 2008, BASF Corporation acquired the Ciba-Geigy Corporation McIntosh plant.

Resources of concern included birds, a variety of fish, shellfish, and benthic resources, and their habitats. Fishery resources documented near the site include striped bass, Alabama shad, American eel, striped mullet and sturgeon.

Trustee Activities:

NOAA and co-trustees provided technical assistance to USEPA for the cleanup. Performance monitoring of this remedial action is on-going. Levels of DDT and its degradation product remained elevated in fish collected on-site in mid-2009 but levels in fish collected since that time (2010 and 2011) are trending consistent with the cleanup goal. In 2005, the trustees initiated a cooperative NRDA with the responsible party to identify potential resource injuries and the amount of restoration needed. It addressed the potential for injury to sediment/benthos, fish and birds in the site itself (including the floodplain), the Lower Tombigbee River, the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, and Mobile Bay. The potential for injuries was considered to be greatest for birds, but a potential for injuries to fish and benthic resources within the floodplain habitat and adjacent areas of the river was also identified. Elevated DDT concentrations have been found in fish and sediments within the riverine floodplain and bottomland hardwood forest habitat and as well as from the Tombigbee River, Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, and Mobile Bay.

In 2013, the trustees and responsible party reached a $5 million settlement that included $3.7 million for restoration of natural resources and habitats impacted by the release of hazardous substances from the manufacturing facility in McIntosh, AL. The funds will be used to plan, implement, and oversee restoration projects and/or acquire lands within the Mobile Bay watershed and to fund additional ecosystem restoration efforts through support of the Alabama Aquatic Biodiversity Center to compensate for resources injured as a result of exposure to contaminants from the facility. The trustees will develop a restoration plan with proposed projects, which will be released for public review and comment.

Why It Matters:

The use of DDT was banned in the United States in 1972 based on its harmful environmental effects on wildlife and potential human health risks. Once released, DDT persists in the environment for a long time and bioaccumulates, or increases in concentrations, up the food chain. Early investigations for this site found elevated concentration levels of DDT in fish and sediments within the floodplain, bottomland hardwood forests and Tombigbee River adjacent to the site.

Case Documents:

Consent Decree Regarding Natural Resource Damage Claims among the United States, State of Alabama and BASF Corporation, October 2013.

Press Release. Federal, state agencies announce $3.7 million to restore Alabama natural resources: Part of a $5 million settlement with BASF following pesticide releases. October 2013.

Case Team Contacts:

Stephanie Willis
NOAA General Counsel
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Fax: 727-824-5376

Additional Links:

USEPA Superfund Site: Ciba-Geigy Corporation (McIntosh Plant)

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