JENNINGS — A closed industrial site in Acadia Parish that dates back to the 1930s has been tagged as a federal priority for hazardous waste cleanup, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday.
EVR-Wood Treating and the adjacent Evangeline Refining Co. have been placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List of Superfund sites, a move that opens the door for federal funding to clean up contamination at the abandoned facilities.
The lumber treatment plant opened in the late 1940s and closed in 1985, and the oil refinery operated from 1938 to 1981, producing naptha, kerosene, diesel and fuel oil, according to information from the EPA.
The site, on La. 97 northeast of Jennings, has attracted scrutiny in part because contaminants from the area could affect nearby wetlands along Bayou Nezpique.
“It has extensive soil and groundwater contamination, which threatens the bayou and associated wetlands unless it is addressed,” state Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Tim Beckstrom said in an email.
He said the state has been working with the EPA to get the site on the National Priorities List to make it eligible for funding under the federal Superfund program.
“The first step is that we need to figure out the extent of the contamination — what’s there and where is it,” EPA spokeswoman Jennah Durant said.
She said the Acadia Parish site was tagged for the National Priorities List based on preliminary observations and testing, but a more thorough investigation will be done before any cleanup begins.
“The whole cleanup process can take years,” Durant said. “The reason they are on the National Priorities List is because they are so complex.”
Durant said the EPA also will work to identify any companies or surviving past owners that should share financial responsibility for the cleanup work.
That process is often difficult because older owners might be deceased and industrial operations can change hands several times through the years, she said.
The Acadia Parish site is one of 12 hazardous waste sites in the nation that has been added to the National Priorities List, the EPA announced Friday.
It was the only site added in Louisiana.
The state already had eight sites on the National Priorities List, all added in the past 30 years.
Cleanup has been completed on all but one of those sites, a wood treatment facility in Union Parish.