Remediation

Fike/Artel Site Trust

Problem:

The Fike/Artel Superfund Site was one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites. Companies that came together to form the Fike/Artel Site Trust were among the potentially responsible parties for remediation of the site. The site, located within a few miles of the West Virginia capital city, had become controversial over the years leading to the formation of the Trust.

Local residents grew tired of delays and critical of EPA’s initial cleanup efforts. Newspaper articles featured the mayor criticizing the approach taken by the EPA and its lack of communication between the site and the community. The formation of the Trust with its large number of members created a communications challenge.

When the Record of Decision (ROD) for the site was issued, an enclosed structure or dome was to be required during the removal of buried drums, but further investigation led Trust members to believe the dome was neither advisable nor economically prudent. After execution of a well-designed education and engagement program, local stakeholders expressed support for the Trust’s recommendation. Both the federal and state agencies were present to hear the community’s opinion about the dome. Following the public comment period, a decision was made to eliminate the structure from the project.

Solution:

Ann Green Communications’ overall strategy for the project was designed to be fluid and to change with the project. The intent of the strategy was—and remains—to keep the public informed and to protect the reputation of the Trust members.

The firm’s team identified issues of concern within the community and methods to ensure those issues were addressed proactively during the various stages of work. Various potential scenarios that could occur during field activities were identified and prepared for by the communications team. This included work-related challenges, stakeholder concerns and interference by outside parties.

Ongoing communications with key opinion leaders and community representatives continue and have been in place for more than 20 years. As part of this ongoing outreach, Ann Green Communications brought together project representatives with community leaders and individuals living and working near the site. The objectives of the meetings were to clearly identify the issues and to address them quickly and with facts.

The discussions have focused on drum removal, risk assessments, the disposal of dioxin-contaminated waste and groundwater issues. By discussing community and media relations with the group, Ann Green Communications has been able to enhance the communication plans to better meet the needs of the residents and the Trust. While not the intended purpose, the interaction provided a forum where the mayor, government leaders, long-time residents and community leaders have praised the Trust for its work and communications approach.