In the 1940’s, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began a program through the Commodity Credit Corp. (CCC) that would help stabilize, support and protect farm incomes and prices, while distributing and maintaining adequate supplies of agricultural products in the United States. A main component of this project was establishing large-scale grain storage bins for storing surplus grain. During storage, the grain was fumigated with an 80/20 mixture of carbon tetrachloride and carbon disulfide to control destructive insects that threatened the success of the program. The CCC ended the grain storage program in the early 1970s and sold all existing grain storage bins and equipment. Later, carbon tetrachloride contaminated groundwater was discovered around some of the grain storage areas. Carbon tetrachloride is a known probable human carcinogen.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Role
The department oversees cleanup at the grain storage sites in a regulatory role. The USDA is the lead agency for the site and is responsible for planning and conducting the cleanups.
- MoDNR Project Manager: 573-751-3907
Past uses of carbon tetrachloride as a fumigant in the grain storage bins used in the CCC grain storage program led to groundwater contamination at some of the USDA grain storage areas.
Contaminants of Concern
The contaminant of concern at the USDA grain storage areas is carbon tetrachloride, a known possible human carcinogen. Its use has now been banned and only continues to be used in some industrial applications.
What’s Been Done
USDA identified 83 former grain storage sites for potential carbon tetrachloride contamination in Missouri. USDA began its investigation on Sept. 30, 2010, looking at five of the locations. Sixty-five of the original sites were determined to pose no significant threat to human health or the environment. Follow-up investigation is needed to confirm the determination. A whole house filtration system was installed at a residence near the Albany site to filter out carbon tetrachloride in the private well supplying drinking water to the home.
- Phase I and Phase II investigations and a pilot study are ongoing at the Albany site
- Phase I investigation has been performed at the Montgomery City site
- Phase I and Phase II investigations have been performed at the Savannah site
- Phase I investigation is ongoing at the Nevada site
- Phase I investigation has been paused due to lack of access to the Forest City site
The performance of the whole house treatment system is being evaluated and an alternative water supply is being considered.
USDA is in the process of evaluating the remaining former grain storage sites for potential carbon tetrachloride contamination.
In the 1940s, the CCC was created within the USDA to stabilize, support and protect farm income and prices, while distributing and maintaining adequate supplies of agricultural products in the United States. As part of this objective, the CCC started large-scale grain bin construction projects throughout the U.S. in the late 1940s for storing surplus grain. By the early 1970s, CCC ended this grain storage program and sold all existing grain storage bins and equipment.
During storage, the grain was fumigated to control destructive insects. The most commonly used fumigant was an 80/20 mixture of carbon tetrachloride and carbon disulfide. Groundwater contaminated with carbon tetrachloride has been discovered around some of these grain storage areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined that carbon tetrachloride is a probable human carcinogen.
As of 2021, there are 83 former grain bin sites. The USDA is in the process of evaluating the remaining 78 former grain storage sites for potential carbon tetrachloride contamination.
On Sept. 30, 2010, the USDA began its investigation by looking at five sites for carbon tetrachloride contamination. These sites are located in or near the towns of Savannah, Albany, Montgomery City, Forest City and Nevada. The department is providing oversight for these site investigations under an intergovernmental agreement with the CCC, acting through the Farm Service Agency of the USDA. The agreement was signed Jan. 3, 2006.
To date, Phase I and Phase II investigations have been performed at the Savannah site and a Phase I investigation has been performed at the Montgomery City site. Phase I and Phase II investigations and a pilot study are ongoing at the Albany site. A whole house filtration system was installed at a residence near the Albany site to filter out the carbon tetrachloride in the private well supplying drinking water to the home. The performance of this treatment system is being evaluated and an alternative water supply is being considered. A Phase I investigation has been started at the Nevada site. The Phase I investigation for the Forest City site has been paused due to lack of access to the site.
The USDA currently is in the process of evaluating the remaining 78 former grain bin locations. A Phase I investigation includes the following objectives:
- Update the previous department inventory and status of private wells in the area of the former grain bin sites and sample the identified wells.
- Investigate for the presence of carbon tetrachloride contamination in the the soil, as a possible source of contaminated groundwater present beneath the former grain bin sites.
- Gather initial information on the site-specific geology at the former grain bin sites.
- Establish initial groundwater monitoring points to investigate the patterns of groundwater movement affecting possible contaminant migration near the former grain bin sites.
The objective of the Phase II Investigation is to fully define the amount and location of carbon tetrachloride contamination beneath the former grain bin sites and the extent of any off-site contamination for cleanup purposes.
Sites Under Investigation
|Site Name||County||Investigation Phase|
|Forest City||Holt||Phase I|
|Montgomery City||Montgomery||Phase I|
|Site Name||County||Site Name||County|
|Craig||Holt||Montgomery City #2||Montgomery|
|Eureka||St. Louis||Mound City||Holt|
|Fairfax #1 - Meyer||Atchison||New London||Ralls|
|Fairfax #2 - Seymour||Atchison||Palmyra||Marion|
|Keytesville #1||Chariton||St. Charles||St. Charles|
|Kingston||Caldwell||St. Joseph/ Prime||Buchanan|
|Kirksville #1||Adair||St. Peters||St. Charles|