About this Superfund Site
Location: Muskogee, Muskogee County, Oklahoma
Township and Range: SE 1/4 of Section 17, Township 15N, Range 19E, and SW 1/4 of Section 16, Township 15N, Range 19E
Latitude/Longitude: 35.77388, -95.305086
Site Type: Smelter
Area: ~110 acres
National Priorities List: Final on September 7, 2023
Current Status: Remedial Investigation
Site History and Background:
The Fansteel/FMRI site cover 110 acres in Muskogee, OK and sits on the bank of the Arkansas River. From 1956 and 1989, the site was used as a smelter to extract tantalum and niobium (columbium) metals from processed ore and tin slags. The processes used for this purpose contaminated the site with radioactive uranium, thorium, heavy metals, acids, and organic solvents. As a result, Fansteel was required to have a Radioactive Materials license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and an Oklahoma Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (OPDES) Permit issued by the DEQ Water Quality Division. Due to financial and economic issues, Fansteel was closed in 1989 and slated for decommissioning and limited site remediation. In 2002 and 2016, Fansteel (now owned by FMRI) filed for bankruptcy and only secured enough funding to manage the site till 2024.
DEQ began its CERCLA site assessment in 1980 starting with the Preliminary Assessment (PA), but the site did not score high enough for listing. In 2018, DEQ began another PA and found enough evidence to perform an Expanded Site Inspection in late 2019. However, the site still did not score high enough to qualify for listing. In 2023, DEQ approached the current Oklahoma governor to designate the site as Oklahoma’s Highest Priority Facility and got approval to do so. The site was officially listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) on September 7, 2023.
In 2018, EPA performed emergency removal of lab chemicals and a tank of ammonium hydroxide to reduce the risk of fire or explosion. As part of the decommissioning efforts, several areas were cleared and moved to proper storage containers. Many containers have been removed from the site, but several remain.
Sources of Contamination: Improper disposal of processed ore and tin slags has contaminated soil and could leach into groundwater feeding the Arkansas River.
Contaminants of Concern: Radioactive waste materials, heavy metals, and chlorinated solvents
Media Affected: Soil, Sediment, Surface Water, and Groundwater