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Soil Removal

To view photographs of what the soil removal and replacement process looks like, click here

Soil removal is a multi-step process that is carefully controlled and monitored by environmental professionals from start to finish. Properties that require cleanup are identified by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) based on the results of soil sampling conducted by Velsicol in recent years. TDEC also reviews and approves all cleanup methods Velsicol uses.

For cleanup work performed by Velsicol through late 2005, TDEC set 3.0 parts per million of dieldrin as the "action level" at or above which soil removal needs to take place. TDEC may change the action level for future cleanup work. One part per million can be thought of as roughly the equivalent of one inch in 16 miles.

Once a property is identified by TDEC as requiring soil removal, Velsicol's Memphis Environmental Center contacts the property owner to begin discussing how the process will take place. Velsicol works closely with property owners to understand their needs and concerns. Dates for soil removal are discussed, as well as which (if any) trees, shrubs and fencing will need to be removed and replaced during the process. Velsicol also takes measurements and creates maps of the property that will be used to identify areas where soil will be removed.

Once these preliminary steps are taken and the property owner provides access, the site is prepared for soil removal to begin. Trees, shrubs, outbuildings and other obstructions to the process are removed to make way for digging equipment and the trucks that will haul away the contaminated soil. Workers wear disposable coveralls to keep their clothes clean and wear dust masks to prevent the inhalation of soil particles during excavation. During excavation, air sampling equipment is used to monitor the air quality, and water is used to control dust as necessary.

Excavation consists of removing the top layer of soil from the property and placing it in waiting trucks. Two feet of soil were removed during the 2005 cleanup work, however, TDEC may direct that a different excavation depth be used in the future. Once a truck is full, the load is securely covered, and the truck's tires and exterior are cleaned before it leaves the property.

The truck takes the soil to a special soil "consolidation area" on Velsicol's plant property on Warford Avenue. The consolidation area is an outdoor site that holds contaminated soil that Velsicol removes from properties identified by TDEC as requiring soil removal. Soil in the consolidation area is protected from wind and rain by a plastic cover.

After the contaminated soil is removed, workers lay down orange construction fencing material as a marker to indicate how far down the soil was removed. Then, clean soil is brought in and new sod, trees and shrubs are planted. Any fences that had to be removed to make way for trucks and digging equipment are replaced.

Velsicol works hard to ensure that the property is restored to the same (or better) condition it was in before the soil removal process began.

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