Ohio EPA responds to comments on Fayette clean-up plan 7.7.2010

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

A recent press release issued by the Ohio EPA confirms what the agency stated last July—the status quo will be followed in Fayette in an effort to clean up contamination from the former Fayette Tubular Products company. The only change is the possible injection of chemicals or biological agents to hasten the breakdown of contaminants.

The agency calls for continuation of the three existing processes plus one property restriction to allow the contamination to “decrease and dissipate without posing unacceptable risks to public health.”

The Ohio EPA notes that groundwater at the factory site and the former Fayette school site is contaminated with chlorinated solvents that were used for degreasing and cleaning during factory operations from 1962 to 1982.

Because the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) and its byproducts tend to break down over time into harmless substances, the agency believes that no additional treatment methods will be necessary. However, the process will be hastened in an area with the highest concentration of chemicals in the groundwater through the injection of agents into the soil.

In the past, there was a proposal to lengthen the existing containment trench and another to construct an additional trench.

The three processes already underway are:

• Partial containment, through a buried  collection trench located on the south side of the factory site;

• Filtering the groundwater collected in the trench;

• Natural attenuation, meaning the chemicals will naturally break down over time.

In addition, the factory property will be limited to industrial use. Soil excavation and extraction of ground water will be prohibited.

An agreement between D.H. Holdings—the company charged with cleaning up contamination and now the owner of the former school property—and the school board calls for the former school land to be used only as green space.

Contaminants were detected in the village water supply in 1995, but new wells were installed upgradient to the contamination site in 2006.

The Ohio EPA released earlier this month a “responsiveness summary” listing the agency’s responses to questions and comments from the village office and from the public.

Responses include:

• The Ohio EPA will continue to monitor the contaminant plume and, if need be, will order the installation of additional monitoring wells.

• Monitoring associated with the former village well field is not necessary.

• The process of attenuation [allowing the contaminants to break down naturally] may take decades; therefore, institutional controls will be maintained. The introduction of active treatment technology will augment the natural attenuation of the contaminants which in turn should decrease the anticipated timeframe of 300 years.

• The breakdown of TCE through injection will ultimately lead to the production of vinyl chloride, which is more mobile and toxic in groundwater and more recalcitrant to treatment. It is assumed that the existing hydraulic containment system (the trench) would provide adequate downgradient collection.

• Contamination in a village sewer and catch basin at the southwest corner of Railroad and Gamber should be attributed to a different source [other than Fayette Tubular Products].

The Ohio EPA rejected a response proposal of taking no action since it does not provide overall protection of human health due to the presence of six compounds in the soil.

A risk assessment indicates indicates that concentrations of chemicals of concern in on-site soils pose a potential threat to the health of construction or utility workers at the site.

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