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Atlantic Steel

Atlantic Steel: FPA Appendix I

Appendix I
Response to Comments on the Atlantic Steel Phase 1 Project Agreement
On February 24, 1999 EPA opened a two-week public comment period soliciting opinions and input on the proposed Phase 1 Project XL Agreement for the Atlantic Steel XL Redevelopment. The Phase 1 Project Agreement is the first of two voluntary agreements which will be developed collaboratively by the project sponsor, Atlantis 16th, L.L.C. (represented by Jacoby Development Corporation), stakeholders, and EPA. EPA and Jacoby hope to complete a Final Project Agreement in May, 1999. A thirty day comment period is planned for the Final Project Agreement.

Prior to and during the comment period on the proposed Phase 1 Project Agreement, EPA and Jacoby participated in a number of stakeholder meetings to discuss various aspects of the project. A public meeting was held on February 11, 1999, in the 10th Street Methodist Church to present the draft Phase 1 Agreement and describe some of the processes and opportunities for further public comment which will occur before the project is completed. The February 11 meeting was transcribed in its entirety and is posted on the Project XL web site at https://www.epa.gov/projectxl. A number of issues and concerns raised in the meeting were reiterated in written comments during the comment period. Written comments on the Agreement are summarized and addressed below. Other comments received at the meeting were addressed when they were raised. Additional meetings EPA and Jacoby have participated in include meeting with an Environmental Justice Focus Group and attending several meetings regarding the proposed Atlantic Steel redevelopment and 17th Street Bridge at the invitation of the City of Atlanta and/or the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Regional Commission. EPA also provided the proposed Phase 1 Project Agreement to national environmental and transportation groups, local environmental and transportation groups, and members of the Environmental Committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and other interested groups for review and comment.

EPA received sixteen letters or emails providing written comments during the comment period. All comments received by EPA are attached as part of this appendix. Ten of the letters were very supportive of the project and reflected a high level of interest and enthusiasm from individuals and organizations representing neighborhoods adjacent to the Atlantic Steel site and members of the Atlanta business community. Many of these commentors also provided letters of support to the Atlanta Regional Commission and Jacoby directly. The letters of support generally focused on the innovation and benefits of redeveloping a former industrial site designed with the specific goal of increasing alternative methods of transportation.

Some of the remaining six commentors were generally supportive of the project, and all highlighted specific concerns. One commentor suggested many ideas for improving the transit, pedestrian, and bicycle connections of the site, and included an informative description of potential options for the Atlantic Steel-Arts Center MARTA station transit connection. Another commentor, while supportive, was mindful of the potential impact on the businesses and tenants of properties on the east side of I-75/85. Jacoby has held several meetings with affected stakeholders on the East side of the interstate in an ongoing effort to achieve consensus on a bridge design that will benefit the whole community.

Four letters suggested specific areas for improvement and described other environmental concerns. Several of the concerns were overlapping and have been summarized in the responses below. The responses indicate areas where changes have been made to the Phase 1 Project Agreement as well as issues which will be addressed in the Final Project Agreement.

Water-related comments

1. Comment: EPA and the project sponsor should consider a stormwater retention pond for the site. The infrastructure for the sanitary sewer and stormwater collection systems should be separated. Further, the stormwater collection system should contain adequate capacity to accommodate stormwater for the entire catchment basin (approximately 500 acres) and the agreement should require the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for stormwater management (the commentor included a number of specific suggestions that are considered BMPs).

Response: The Phase 1 Agreement has been modified to include specific measures for the management of stormwater, and separation of sewer and stormwater piping through the site. Such separation is not currently required by law, but Jacoby has agreed to this measure in the interest of reducing future impacts on water quality. The stormwater management measures include reuse of stormwater as greywater, use of catch basins in times of heavy rainfall, diverting runoff through treatment facilities and others as described in the Agreement. The Agreement has also been modified to reflect the fact that the separate stormwater pipe will have sufficient capacity for the entire redevelopment and existing flows in the catchment basin.

The proposed redevelopment includes a water feature that will serve as a retention pond in periods of heavy rainfall. This is described in the revised Phase 1 Agreement.

One commentor took exception to the following sentence which was in the Agreement: "Current water quality will be enhanced because surface runoff which leaves the site will pass through on-site Best Management Practices (BMPs) and erosion control facilities and will flow to the local CSO control facility before entering Atlanta's combined sewer system." EPA agrees that the sentence might be misinterpreted. It has been removed from the Phase 1 Agreement.

2. Comment: Route stormwater from the site so that it bypasses the Tanyard Creek Combined Sewer Screening Facility and joins its natural channel.

Project support through DOT funding of a bridge over the expressway at 17th Street should be offset in part by developer endorsement of on-site roadway runoff storage and treatment.
Response: EPA and Jacoby initially hoped that Tanyard Creek, immediately down gradient from the site, could be restored as an "urban creek." After a thorough examination of existing conditions, EPA has determined that restoration of the creek is not a practical option as part of this project. Evaluation of the site showed that the natural streambed of Tanyard Creek is not connected to the Atlantic Steel site. Restoration of the creek would require groundbreaking in surrounding streets and routing of water through a neighborhood beyond the Atlantic Steel site. Such activities would present additional capital costs unrelated to the proposed project.

The second part of the comment is addressed by including specific stormwater management measures which have been added to the Phase 1 Agreement. The measures described in the Agreement will be implemented in an attempt to reduce or eliminate the flow of pollutants from stormwater runoff (including roadway runoff) to receiving waters.

3. Comment: EPA should take steps to minimize the economic impact of this in-fill development on the City of Atlanta's water/sewer system.

Response: The project sponsor will attempt to minimize the economic impact on Atlanta's sewer system by implementing stormwater BMPs, using water conservation efforts and providing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate a separation of stormwater and sanitary sewer systems. It should be noted that the proposed redevelopment will have an overall positive economic impact on the area. The increased tax base and creation of new jobs should help to further the revitalization of the midtown area.

4. Comment: EPA should protect Shoal Creek, its wetlands, lakes and riparian corridor, and maintain the free-flowing stream on the site.

Response: After an initial review of area maps by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), it was determined that there are no streams or wetlands on the site. The Corps is still in the process of evaluating the site, and is pursuing additional information in order to make a final determination on the existence of any wetland on the site. Shoal Creek existed in the vicinity of the Atlantic Steel site in the early 1800's, and is shown on maps printed as late as 1864. Maps examined by EPA dating from 1910 through the present do not show the existence of Shoal Creek. However, it has not been determined whether Shoal Creek still exists, or whether any presence of water on the site represents remnants of this Creek. EPA will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to make this determination.

Site Remediation and Construction/Design

5. Comment: Reduce and eliminate contaminated site runoff to local streams, require pretreatment of contaminated groundwater, then discharge into the sanitary sewer system.

Response: The site will be remediated and controlled to prevent off-site contamination. Remediation of the site and related activities are under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Groundwater is currently monitored on the west end of the site, downgradient of the former waste pile. This issue was addressed in section V.E. of the Draft Phase 1 Agreement:

"To assure that no contamination leaves the brownfield site in the future via groundwater, the remediation of the property will incorporate a groundwater interceptor system to collect groundwater and divert it to the combined sewer. If necessary, treatment of the intercepted groundwater will be provided to assure compliance with Atlanta's Sewer Use Ordinance."

Sampling to date has not shown unacceptable concentrations of contaminants of concern (primarily metals). The groundwater system will be installed to intercept groundwater at the site boundary. After pretreatment, water will meet City of Atlanta Ordinance Discharge Criteria and may be disposed of in either the sanitary sewer or the stormwater management system. The comment expressing a preference for discharge of treated groundwater to the sanitary sewer will be forwarded to GA EPD. Other comments, questions and concerns related to the remediation of the Atlantic Steel site may be directed to the GA EPD to assure the most accurate, up-to-date information. The Hazardous Waste Management Branch of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources may be contacted at (404) 656-7802.

6. Comment: Maximize green spaces in order to soften the heat island effect and positively affect the community's social fabric.

Natural water bodies and their forested corridors and buffers must remain intact and be extended, enhanced and integrated into the landscape to offset the heat island effect and to filter out air pollutants. The entire site must be reforested to the maximum extent possible. Buildings, roads, parking, and the landscape must be designed to minimize the heat reflection and ozone production.

Protect existing greenfields on the property; add green areas and trees where practicable.

Response: The City of Atlanta zoning requirements include a condition that a minimum of seven acres of the site must be open space. While protection of existing trees and green spaces is a goal that both EPA and the project sponsor share, many of the existing trees are likely to be removed as the redevelopment proceeds. Remediation and grading of the site may require removal of slag or other materials in order to protect human health and the environment. Removal of some existing trees and reconfiguration of green spaces is an inevitable by-product of a remediation and redevelopment of this size, density and complexity. The project sponsor will implement a comprehensive landscape plan to replace trees and vegetation and help offset the heat island effect. In addition, a sustainable legal entity will be responsible for managing both natural and recreational spaces on the redevelopment. A revised site design will be included in the Final Project Agreement. Size, location, and nature of green spaces and parks will be shown on the revised site design.

An important factor regarding preservation of open space is that a development of the same square footage as Atlantic Steel would consume substantially more acres of open/green space if it were built in suburban or outlying sites consistent with current development patterns in the Atlanta region. Because of the lower density of construction in outlying sites, nearly 10 times more open space might be eliminated. This estimate is supported by an analysis of growth and development patterns in the Atlanta region and documented in Appendix G: Transportation and Environmental Analysis of the Atlantic Steel Development. Developments in suburban locations would likely result in consumption of substantial amounts of regional open space.

Another important consideration is that the Atlantic Steel redevelopment will result in the clean-up of a brownfield. EPA has not analyzed the specific benefits of brownfield clean-up in this location. However, the federal government, numerous states and cities have made brownfield clean-up and redevelopment a priority because such actions result in economic, health, and aesthetic benefits.

National Smelting and Refining Company

7. Comment: There were a number of comments concerning property across the railroad tracks north of the Atlantic Steel site. The property was formerly owned and operated by National Smelting and Refining Company. Primary concerns about the National Smelting and Refining Site related to airborne emissions and off-site migration of lead in soils and surface water.

Response: In the early 1990's, EPA and several companies conducted a removal action at the Site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund). EPA's Superfund program is currently reevaluating the Site to take into consideration the proposed changes in future use of the Atlantic Steel property, and potential changes in future use of the National Smelting site. As part of the reevaluation, EPA is conducting additional sampling at the site to determine whether any residual hazardous substances could pose an unacceptable risk to workers and residents if the Atlantic Steel property and the National Smelting site are developed. If EPA determines that the site presents an unacceptable risk to human health and welfare or the environment, EPA will evaluate options for reducing or eliminating those risks. Under CERCLA, the public will have an opportunity to submit comments to EPA at major decision points unless EPA determines that a "time-critical" removal is necessary. Under CERCLA, when EPA determines that it must undertake a removal action in a time-critical situation to protect human health and the environment, public comment is not solicited prior to the removal action. This is consistent with the statute and regulations regarding Superfund time-critical removal actions.

Air issues
8. Comment: Place ambient air monitors and air toxic monitors to measure current levels of localized air pollutants.

Response: The Remediation Plan for Atlantic Steel includes on-site air monitoring during clean- up. However, the plan has not yet been finalized and approved by GA EPD. The type, number and placement of the monitors will be determined in the final Remediation Plan. The Remediation Plan is expected to be approved by GA EPD in the near future and will be included as an appendix to the Final Project Agreement. Further information on air monitoring during site clean-up may be obtained by contacting the Hazardous Waste Management Branch of the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at (404) 656-7802.

EPA shares the goal of assuring that levels of localized air pollutants remain acceptable. As part of its effort to determine the overall environmental effects of this project, EPA analyzed whether, if the Atlantic Steel site were developed, additional traffic would cause localized Carbon Monoxide (CO) "hot spots." The EPA analysis indicates that CO hot spots would not occur. Areas where CO may increase are generally those that currently enjoy a low CO concentration and would not rise to levels of concern. Additional CO analysis is underway but is not expected to significantly alter these results. Results of all EPA analyses will be available on the Project XL web site [https://www.epa.gov/ProjectXL] as they are completed.

As part of its overall air quality program, the State of Georgia places ambient air monitors in various locations to monitor levels of air pollution. The placement of ambient air monitors in Georgia is handled by EPD. Current locations of ambient air monitors in the State of Georgia are listed at: http://www.gaepd.org/air/amp/. (For example, to find out the monitoring locations for SO2, click on the SO2 entry for "today", "yesterday", "-2 days", or "-3 days". From that page choose "Location of Georgia's Sulfur Dioxide Monitors" (Map)). EPA works closely with GA EPD to ensure that national and regional air quality goals are met. Further information on the location of ambient air monitors in Georgia may be obtained by contacting the Air Branch of EPD at (404) 363-7000. Information on National Ambient Air Quality Standards is available by contacting Karen Borel of EPA Region 4 at (404) 562-9029.


9. Comment: The proposed 17th Street bridge/interchange's primary function must be to encourage the use of new transit, biking, and walking. Shuttle buses must meet all Arts Center
train arrivals and departures. Sidewalks must be covered, noise proof, and a joy to walk. Bike lanes must be separate, safe and easy to use.

Response: EPA agrees that the 17th Street bridge must include designated transit, bike, and pedestrian lanes. As noted in Section VII.B.1. of the draft Phase 1 Agreement, EPA expects to approve the State Implementation Plan (SIP) containing the Atlantic Steel Redevelopment Transportation Control Measure (TCM) if the bridge includes, at a minimum, right-of-way for and capacity to accommodate transit, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle lanes. The final design of the bridge has been and will continue to be the subject of extensive discussion by stakeholders, including but not limited to EPA, the project sponsor, community groups, the City of Atlanta, Georgia DOT, FHWA, and FTA.

The project sponsor has made an enforceable commitment in the Phase 1 Project Agreement to operation of a linkage from the Atlantic Steel site to mass transit at the Arts Center MARTA station. The project sponsor has also given EPA a letter committing to run the shuttle service from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm on weekdays, and 9:00 am to 12:00 am on weekends, with 10
minute headways.

A covered pedestrian walkway was depicted in a preliminary concept drawing of the bridge cross-section. However, as noted above, the final design of the bridge is still under discussion. One goal shared by all parties to the discussions is pedestrian-friendliness. Suggestions that the walkway should be covered will be forwarded to GA DOT and the project sponsor.

Other issues

10. Comment: Ask Georgia Tech to be part of the solution so that potential radiation hazards can be reduced.

Response: EPA solicited information on behalf of the Environmental Justice focus group regarding safety measures and precautions in place at the Georgia Tech Neely Nuclear Research Center. Attached is a letter from Dr. R. D. Ice (Radiation Safety Officer at Georgia Tech) to Mr. Tom Hill, Director, Radioactive Materials Program at GA EPD. The letter addresses the group's three concerns (i.e. Emergency Evacuation Plan, the Security Plan and the storage of Cobalt-60 in the event of an accident).

EPA provided a written response to additional concerns raised separately by the commentor regarding the transfer of Cobalt-60 to other locations on the campus, including proposed developments on the Atlantic Steel site. EPA learned from Mr. Hill that the Neely Center is the only Georgia Tech location licensed to use Cobalt-60. In the letter, EPA provided appropriate regulatory process/agency contact information for these concerns. Concerns about decommissioning of the nuclear reactor should be directed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (404-562-4400) and concerns regarding the permanent removal of Cobalt-60 from its current location and other related issues should be addressed to Mr. Hill at the GA EPD (404-362-2675).

11. Comment: Foster hiring of local low-income and minority citizens during remediation and construction.

Response: Hiring of workers to implement the redevelopment is a matter outside of EPA's purview. However, it is clear that the redevelopment will create many jobs both during and after its remediation and construction. Because of the regionally central location of the site and its access to mass transit, more minority and low income citizens will likely be able to seek employment at the Atlantic Steel site than at a comparable development in a suburban or outlying location.

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