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Cop City – List of Contaminations and Concerns

A local environmentalist with a background in hydrology and geology was kind enough to put significant effort into reviewing the mountains of information regarding Cop City and asked us to host their response/notes below. We are more than happy to do so and thank them for their dedication to the ongoing efforts to hold the city accountable for their continued actions in relation to the proposed Cop City development.

Likely Contaminated Locations

  • Key road landfill: The landfill monitoring well closest to the old prison farm has exhibited concentrations of four metals (Barium, Cobalt, Mercury, and Zinc) far above background levels.
  • Boiler room + tires: Hundreds of piled burnt tires were observed inside and around the building, Atlanta has removed a lot tires over the years and set fire to the tire piles using diesel in 2017. This caused the partial collapse of the boiler room. It’s also unknown what kind of fuel was used in the boiler room itself. Stained soil and stressed vegetation was observed on the ground surface surrounding the boiler room and tires.
  • Building B1: Bulk storage of hundreds of unlabeled metal cans and multiple rusty 55-gallon drums.
  • Building B2:  Stained concrete and remnants of concrete fuel dispenser islands and piping. Multiple empty 55-gallon drums of zep degreaser, trash, and a personal portable gasoline tank. It’s likely that contamination exists underneath the fuel dispenser blocks. The remainder of building B2 could not be observed because of the gradual collapse of the building and debris covering the area. It is possible more petroleum products or other hazardous substances could be under the debris.
  • Building B3: Several discarded 55-gallon drums, small storage bins and trash was observed scattered trough the building. Additionally several large areas of stained soil were observed on the gravel ground.
  • Large quantities of tires and dumped debris present throughout portions of the site.
  • Given the long history and historical use as a farm and apparent digging activities associated with the farming operations, there is a possibility for buried debris in other areas of the site.
  • The residential structure could potentially contain Asbestos containing materials (ACMs).
  • The residential structure may also have contained a underground storage tank. If so a significant environmental impact is unlikely but if it’s still in or around the property it should be properly excavated from the ground according to regulations.
  • ATS: A circa 20 000-gallon above ground storage tank of unknown use and origin.

Significant Data Gaps

  • Visual observation of the boiler room floor was obstructed due to the tire debris. The history of the facility and the source of fuel couldn’t be confirmed.
  • Empty approximate 20 000-gallon AST of unknown origin and use.
  • While it’s known that this is the location of the old Atlanta prison farm, a lot of information about the location of different facilities of the prison farm is unknown. Many of these locations could be possible places of contamination.

Information City of Atlanta Didn’t Provide

(either as owner or as past user of the site)

  • Terracon attempted to interview a representative with the city of Atlanta who has more knowledge regarding the historical use of the site, as of the publication of the report (April 22 2021), contact information has not been provided (Which caused multiple knowledge gaps).
  • While it’s known that this is the location of the old Atlanta prison farm, Terracon was unable to confirm details of location of some of the operations of the old farm (i.e. laundry facility, fueling for equipment, working on equipment, Storage of fertilizers, herbicides/pesticides and other related chemicals used for farming). Because of that certain locations which could be polluted couldn’t be properly documented.
  • City of Atlanta could not provide information on what the graded and/or borrow areas ,seen in the aerial photograph(s), were historically used for (Terracon speculated that these activities could be part of the key road landfill).
  • It is unknown which fuel was used in the boiler room.
  • Former use of building B3 is unknown.
  • In the client survey they acknowledge that they have actual knowledge of a lower purchase price because contamination is known or believed to be present at the site. While asked to explain why, Atlanta gave no further explanation.
  • They also said in the survey that they aren’t aware of ‘commonly known or reasonably ascertainable information about the site that would help the environmental professional to identify conditions indicative of releases or threatened releases’ When the old prison farm is across a landfill and has been used as a dumping place for tires and other debris.
  • Environmental Liens and Activity and Use limitations weren’t provided by the client (City of Atlanta) and on their direction the review of these records was not included as part of the provided services.
  • Terracon requested copies of previous environmental reports prepared for the site (if any). Previous reports were not provided to Terracon for review. It is possible that they didn’t exist of course except that their regulatory database did bring up an HREC (historic contamination site) and have included that environmental report in the appendix of this assessment.
  • No information on historical use has been provided.
  • Information in general wasn’t given or explained.

Information Expected to be Gathered by the City of Atlanta Itself

  • Environmental lien and activity and use limitation (AUL) (research into activity and use limitations on the site, environmental encumbrance and documents the specific local office responsible for the recording of land title documents).
  • Title search was not included (research into past owners of the property and their interests & identify which agency is responsible for that).

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