Rare Swap of State-Owned and Private Lands Will Allow Cleanup of Superfund Site in Jacksonville and Expansion of a Florida State Park
 

Jacksonville, FL (April 26, 2019) – A rare swap of privately owned marsh for state-owned submerged lands won State of Florida approval and cleared other hurdles, paving the way toward cleanup of a Superfund site on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida, and an addition to Fort George Island Cultural State Park.

The Multistate Environmental Response Trust (Multistate Trust) needed to acquire 2.8 acres of state-owned, sovereign submerged lands to facilitate cleanup of the Multistate Trust-owned Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp –Jacksonville Superfund Site (the Site) in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida.

The Multistate Trust requires access to the submerged lands adjacent to the Site’s St. Johns River shoreline to build a bulkhead to contain contaminated river sediment, as required by the Site cleanup plan selected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 2018, the Multistate Trust reached a major milestone in the path toward implementing the Site cleanup when Florida’s governor and cabinet authorized the transfer of the State-owned submerged lands to the Multistate Trust. In exchange for the submerged lands, the State agreed to accept 14.5 acres of privately owned marsh and forest that the Multistate Trust acquired and offered as trade lands. The trade lands will be conserved as part of the adjoining Fort George Island Cultural State Park northeast of Jacksonville.

“This is an amazing accomplishment, and our team did an outstanding job in helping make this exceptionally complex transaction happen,” said Cindy Brooks, Multistate Trust managing principal and president of Greenfield Environmental Trust Group, Inc., corporate sole member of Multistate Trust trustee Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC.

“The acquisition of the submerged lands to support cleanup of contamination and the dedication of the Fort George Island property to conservation are a win-win for the environment and the citizens of Florida,” Brooks said.

The Multistate Trust’s 31-acre Site in the heavily industrialized Port of Jacksonville was used for fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing from 1893 until 1978. The manufacturing operations contaminated soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment.

In 2011, the Multistate Trust was created as part of the global Tronox bankruptcy settlement. In connection with the settlement, the Multistate Trust assumed responsibility for owning, remediating and facilitating reuse of the Site in Jacksonville and hundreds of other polluted properties in the United States. The Multistate Trust manages the Site in Jacksonville in partnership with its beneficiaries: the United States, as represented by EPA, and the State of Florida, as represented by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The EPA-chosen and FDEP-approved Site cleanup plan calls for installing an environmental bulkhead – a retaining wall along the waterfront – and placing clean fill in the submerged lands between the bulkhead and the shoreline. The State of Florida asserts title to lands below the mean high waterline of the St. Johns River.

In order to acquire the state-owned submerged lands, the Multistate Trust was required to identify and acquire trade land that meets regulatory requirements. The Multistate Trust worked with the nonprofit North Florida Land Trust (NFLT) to help locate and obtain the trade lands – 14.5 acres of marsh and forest on Fort George Island next door to Fort George Island Cultural State Park – from a private landowner. The trade lands will allow expansion of the state park.

In 2018, when the governor and cabinet approved transfer of the sovereign submerged lands, they determined that the exchange is in the public interest, as required by the Florida Constitution. The State of Florida certificate of approval noted that the land transfer benefited the public for several reasons. As noted by FDEP, the Site remediation will benefit Florida citizens by preventing further migration of Site contaminants into St. Johns River sediments and by containing within the bulkhead the contaminated sediments currently located on the River bottom. In addition, the remediation will benefit local and state economies by making the property available for reuse and generating new taxes as well as new jobs, both temporarily through the cleanup and permanently through the reuse.

In connection with the land swap, the Multistate Trust implemented various actions to enable execution of the exchange, including:

  • Negotiating the exchange agreement with the State of Florida, including securing the approval of the governor and cabinet;

  • Partnering with NFLT to help the Multistate Trust identify and acquire trade lands that meet state regulatory and Multistate Trust requirements;

  • Negotiating with a private landowner for acquisition of the trade lands; - Securing approval of the land swap from EPA, the United States Department of Justice, and FDEP; and

  • Obtaining certified property appraisals and title and survey materials.

About Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC
Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC is the court-appointed trustee of the Multistate Environmental Response Trust (the Multistate Trust). The Multistate Trust was created in 2011 as part of the global Tronox bankruptcy settlement. The Multistate Trust’s primary mission is to protect human health and the environment in partnership with its beneficiaries. The Multistate Trust assumed responsibility for owning, remediating and facilitating reuse of hundreds of contaminated, former Kerr-McGee sites in 31 states, at the request of the U.S. government, 20 state governments, and Tronox (formerly known as Kerr-McGee).

The Multistate Trust is remediating the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Jacksonville Superfund Site (the Site) on Talleyrand Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida, in partnership with the Multistate Trust’s beneficiaries: the United States, represented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the State of Florida, represented by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The Multistate Trust has been working to involve local residents and other stakeholders in its activities at the Site, which formerly contained a fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing operation. For more information, please visit the Multistate Trust website.

Media Contact: Christine Amrhine, Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC, trustee of the Multistate Environmental Response Trust (Multistate Trust), 540-846-3163, ca@g-etg.com

This map shows the location of the Multistate Trust’s Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Jacksonville Superfund Site (outlined in red) in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. To facilitate cleanup of the Site, the Multistate Trust acquired 2.8 acres of state-owned, submerged lands adjacent to the Site’s St. Johns River shoreline in a land swap authorized by Florida’s governor and cabinet. In exchange for the submerged lands, the State agreed to accept 14.5 acres of marsh and forest that the Multistate Trust acquired and offered as trade lands and that will be conserved as part of the adjoining Fort George Island Cultural State Park.

This map shows the location of the Multistate Trust’s Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Jacksonville Superfund Site (outlined in red) in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida. To facilitate cleanup of the Site, the Multistate Trust acquired 2.8 acres of state-owned, submerged lands adjacent to the Site’s St. Johns River shoreline in a land swap authorized by Florida’s governor and cabinet. In exchange for the submerged lands, the State agreed to accept 14.5 acres of marsh and forest that the Multistate Trust acquired and offered as trade lands and that will be conserved as part of the adjoining Fort George Island Cultural State Park.

 
Anna Novikova