Welcome to FMC Pocatello, Idaho
From 1949 until 2001, FMC Corporation operated the world’s largest elemental phosphorus plant in Power County, Idaho, just outside Pocatello, employing upwards of 650 individuals at full production.
Since the plant’s closure, FMC has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Idaho, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to develop a cleanup plan for the property that is environmentally protective and ensures the health and safety of both workers and the general public.
The Eastern Michaud Flats Superfund Site, which includes both the FMC plant site and the J.R. Simplot Co. plant site, was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1990. FMC’s priority is to make good on our commitment to clean up the property, to do it in a safe and responsible way, and to get it redeveloped for the benefit of the community.
On September 27, 2012, EPA published an Interim Amendment to the Record of Decision (IRODA) that selected a cleanup plan for the FMC site. The selected cleanup includes capping of contaminated soil and extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater. The IRODA has the support of the State of Idaho; the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes did not concur with EPA’s remedy.
On June 10, 2013, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order for Remedial Design and Remedial Action (UAO) to FMC under which the company is implementing the IRODA remedy. The UAO spells out the specific steps FMC must follow to develop the remedial engineering design and perform the site cleanup.
EPA has reviewed and approved the soil remedy design, as well as work plans to collect some additional field data to support development of the groundwater extraction wells and soil caps. FMC completed those steps during the summer of 2013 and obtained EPA approval of the remedial design work plan allowing site-wide grading in 2014. Capping began in late 2015 under EPA-approved work plans. The groundwater remedial design is undergoing EPA review and approval, with construction of the groundwater remedy anticipated to commence in 2017.
Overview of Soil Remedy Construction
On September 22, 2014, FMC and its soil remedy construction contractor began the Site-Wide Grading Phase of the interim remedy selected in the IRODA. Site-wide grading prepared the site for cap placement and managing on-site stormwater. The site-wide grading work was completed by the end of the 2015 construction season. FMC also started placing caps on the site in late 2015.
There are two types of caps that are being constructed: (1) gamma caps, which consist of a 14 inch soil cover over areas of the site where naturally occurring radiation from shale/slag are present, and (2) evapotransporative caps (ET caps) which consist of 30 inches of soil over a capillary barrier where infiltration of rain and snow-melt needs to be minimized to prevent groundwater contamination. Both caps will be seeded with native plants. In 2016, FMC selected Envirocon to complete the placement of gamma and ET caps. Envirocon has prior experience on the site from the capping of the waste ponds after plant shutdown.
Soil for the capping work is being obtained from the existing borrow pit in the Western Undeveloped Area of the property. Eventually, the borrow pit will be expanded to cover approximately 80 acres. This is land owned by FMC and had no role in phosphorus production activities. The soil first undergoes preparation activities (preconditioning) to achieve the appropriate moisture content. Then it is transferred to the plant site for cap construction. In coordination with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Cultural Resources Office and the State Historic Preservation Office, EPA conducted a cultural resource survey in the Western Undeveloped Area to ensure that no historic properties will be impacted by the soil excavation. Using soils from the existing borrow pit and the expanded area, FMC anticipates that it will be able to excavate enough soil to complete all of the caps by the end of the 2016 construction season.
Because most of the remediation of the FMC site is taking place within the boundaries of an Indian reservation, FMC has asked its construction contractor to hire local personnel using Native American hiring preferences authorized under the Federal Civil Rights Act. In 2015, approximately one-half of the 30 local positions available were filled by Native Americans. Hiring by Envirocon is ongoing during the 2016 construction season as EPA approvals for different phases of the work are obtained.
Construction of the groundwater extraction and treatment system is expected to commence in 2017. The system will utilize a network of extraction wells to extract contaminated groundwater and prevent its migration to areas down-gradient from the plant site. Extracted groundwater will be treated to drinking water standards and/or risk-based cleanup levels. Treated groundwater will be discharged to infiltration ponds for evaporation or percolation into the groundwater or will be re-injected directly. EPA is currently reviewing FMC’s proposed groundwater extraction and treatment system design plans. FMC will continue to work with EPA to refine and further develop those design plans.
FMC anticipates that the cleanup will have a final cost of approximately $60 million and take three to four years to complete. FMC is responsible for all cleanup costs.
FMC is pleased to be moving forward under the UAO to implement the IRODA. The UAO allows for expedited implementation, eliminates time-consuming administrative steps, and allows cleanup to move forward without further delay. The IRODA and UAO represent the culmination of almost twenty-five years of investigation and exhaustive study and evaluation of all known potential remedial technologies. The remedial actions specified in those documents are 1) scientifically sound, 2) protective of human health and the environment, and 3) consistent with remedial actions implemented successfully at similar sites around the country. For additional information, visit the EPA website: go.usa.gov/iTC.
Current and Future Redevelopment Projects
While implementing the UAO and IRODA, FMC is continuing to work with the Power County Development Authority (PCDA) to market the property for redevelopment. Until now, uncertainties regarding the scope and timing of the cleanup action have deterred interested developers. Now that the IRODA and UAO have been issued and FMC is carrying out the site cleanup actions EPA selected, these barriers to redevelopment have been removed and strong interest is being expressed by developers.
ValleyAgronomics, LLC is the first of hopefully many projects that will locate on the property. On a 20 acre area in the northeast corner of the FMC site, ValleyAgronomics is constructing a fertilizer distribution facility which will service the agricultural community of Southeast Idaho and create approximately 70 jobs. It will be the largest fertilizer distribution facility in Idaho. The project investment is approximately $12 million and construction is expected to be complete in November 2016. On June 8, 2016, ValleyAgronomics hosted a groundbreaking event that was attended by community leaders, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, state officials, and representatives from FMC, Valley Agronomics, and other businesses.
The FMC site is uniquely situated to support good paying, industrial jobs and to immediately start contributing again to the local economies. The property is zoned for heavy industrial use and offers excellent infrastructure including rail, electrical transmission, access to interstate highways, and proximity to the Pocatello Regional Airport. Redevelopment can occur as the clean up progresses; in fact, portions of the property can already accommodate industrial and commercial use. PCDA is actively marketing other areas of the property and is very optimistic about opportunities for the site.
About the FMC Pocatello, Idaho website
Through this website, you can learn more about the history of the plant, the steps taken to remediate the site, plans for redevelopment of the property, and jurisdictional issues. This website will regularly be monitored and updated as we make progress in our efforts to put this property back to work for Idaho.
As you maneuver through the website, you may want to acquaint yourself with the Glossary of Terms to help you understand some of the more technical details concerning the site.
We welcome your Comments and Questions, and ask that you please respect the integrity of the FMC Pocatello, Idaho website.
- Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) (PDF 414KB)
- Interm Record of Decision from the EPA Sept 2012 (PDF 5.7MB)
- Economic Impact Analysis (PDF 1MB)
- EPA Proposed Cleanup Plan – FACT SHEET (PDF 775KB)
- EPA Proposed Cleanup Plan (PDF 6.2MB)
- Power County, Idaho
- The Cleanup Plan
- FMC Fee Property
- Glossary of Terms
- Comments and Questions