Though the Stauffer Chemical plant in Tarpon Springs, FL closed in 1981, there was no missing the immense environmental damage to the area after decades of operation.
Phosphorous dust on the grounds had accumulated in such quantity that it regularly burst into flame. Local marine businesses routinely found their equipment and boats covered in black tar-like pollution.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, “The plant left 30 toxic substances in the water and soil, including arsenic, lead and radium-226. Workers at the plant were exposed to asbestos, lead, sulfur dioxide and other contaminants that could have increased their risk of cancer.”
Repairing the Damage
Ultimately, there was so much radioactive materials and heavy metals left at the 130-acre site on the Anclote River that it was designated a federal Superfund site in 1994.
Attempt to Neutralize Goes Up in Smoke
The original cleanup plan called for engineers to neutralize the elemental phosphorus on the grounds by mixing in counteracting chemicals. However, while testing this strategy in a small section, the phosphorus ignited and boiled out of the ground like a volcano. Apparently, this conflagration was dramatic enough that even a CNN helicopter arrived on the scene!
A Permanent Containment Solution
After the fire incident, the cleanup effort shifted towards a containment strategy. Major restorative repairs to the Superfund site included building walls around polluted ponds that reached depths of 20 feet, then capping the perimeter with watertight seals.
What remained was the need for a long-term way to protect both the surrounding land and water from the elemental phosphorous contamination on the site.
Unique Solutions by Everlast Seawalls
To seal off the property from the surrounding land area, ESP engineered a 2,200 linear foot FRP composite sheet pile wall to serve as a cutoff for the elemental phosphorous. The wall prevents pollutants from leaching into the surrounding environment.
Our product was selected in part because of its unique marine grade resin system which offers unsurpassed chemical resistance compared to competitor products. The sheet lengths varied between 15’ and 35’ long to drive into the limerock layer underneath the soil, effectively sealing in contaminants.
The wall was tested almost immediately. During containment efforts, engineers ran out of storage for the contaminated water. In the interim, the water was pumped behind the sheets installed by ESP to act as a cofferdam, and the wall held without leaking.
Critical Experience and Expertise
ESP was also selected for our extensive experience and expertise. This value became abundantly clear on a second site cleanup project.
Original plans called for a seawall on the portion of the property that borders Meyers Cove and the Anclote River.
When analyzing the plan, however, ESP engineer Carl Hazenberg identified warning signs in the design that he and his associates believed would likely cause the wall to fail. That would be bad under normal circumstances, but given the environmental implications on this project the consequences could be disastrous.
As a result, Hazenberg ultimately redesigned the entire plan. To build it, ESP engineered a 1,500 linear foot vinyl seawall with an Earth Anchor system.
In addition to permanently blocking contaminants from entering the larger ecosystem, the wall is aesthetically pleasing and requires no maintenance.
Superfund Mission Accomplished
ESP is proud of its role helping protect the environment and restoring a beautiful part of Florida to its former beauty.
The before and after pictures speak for themselves!