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Record of Decision System (RODS)



Address:  600 OLD SALEM RD NE 
City & State:  ALBANY  OR  97321
County:  LINN
EPA ID:  ORD050955848
EPA Region:  10
NPL Status:  Currently on the Final NPL
ROD Type:  Record of Decision
ROD ID:  EPA/ROD/R10-95/125
ROD Date:  09/27/1995
Operable Unit(s):  03
Media:  soil
Contaminant:  Radionuclides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), thorium, radium-226,
Abstract:  Please note that the text in this document summarizes the Record of Decision for the purposes of facilitating searching and retrieving key text on the ROD. It is not the officially approved abstract drafted by the EPA Regional offices. Once EPA Headquarters receives the official abstract, this text will be replaced.

The Teledyne Wah Chang Albany site(TWCA)is located in an industrial based community 2 miles north of downtown Albany. The site is approximately 20 miles south of Salem, 65 miles south of Portland, 60 miles east of the Pacific Ocean, and adjacent to the Willamette River. Portions of the TWCA site are within the river's 100- and 500-year flood plains.

The TWCA plant is bounded on the east by Old Salem Road and Interstate 5 (I-5). The land east of the plant is used mainly for residential and commercial purposes. The land west of the Williamette River, which forms the western boundary of the plant, is used for agriculture. The land surrounding the Farm Ponds Area to the north of the Main Plant is also used for agricultural purposes.

Albany had a population of 29,000 in 1990; Millersburg had a population of about 700 people. The TWCA site is located within an area that is zoned for heavy industry. Industrial facilities closest to the TWCA site include a particle board plant, a resin plant, a wood flour processing plant, and a closed plywood mill.

The TWCA site covers the 110-acre Main Plant and the 115-acre Farm Ponds Area located 3/4 mile north of the Main Plant. The Main Plant is organized into the Extraction Area, the Fabrication Area, and a Solids Storage Area west of the Burlington Northern Railroad. The Farm Ponds Area contains the plant's wastewater treatment ponds, four 2 « acre solids storage ponds, and the 50-acre Soil Amendment Area. The Soil Amendment Area has been primarily used in the past for agriculture.

Teledyne Wah Chang operations at the TWCA site began in 1956 when, under contract with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Wah Chang Corporation reopened the U.S. Bureau of Mines Zirconium Metal Sponge Plant. Construction of new facilities, at the location of the existing plant, began in 1957. These facilites were established primarily for the production of zirconium and hafnium sponge; however, tantalum and niobium pilot facilities were also included. Melting and fabrication operations were added in 1959. TWCA was established in 1967 after Teledyne Industries, Inc. purchased the Wah Chang Corporation of New York. In 1971, the plant became a separate corporation, Teledyne Wah Chang Albany.

Beginning in 1957, waste materials from TWCA's processes were placed in unlined ponds at the facility. Examples of unlined ponds used for disposal of waste sludges and other materials in the past include the V-2 Pond, Schmidt Lake, and the Lower River Solids Pond (LRSP). From 1972 until 1978, chlorinator residues from TWCA's sand chlorination process were placed in a separate pile north of Schmidt Lake. This practice was discontinued in 1978, when the contents of the pile were removed and transported off site to a permitted low level radioactive waste disposal facility.

Solid residues generated during the development and operation of nonferrous metals manufacturing processes at the plant site were placed in a resource and recovery pile. The major material placed in the pile was magnesium chloride. From 1983 through 1988, TWCA recovered material from this pile to produce magnesium oxide for use in its ongoing processes.

The V-2 pond was used for temporary storage and pretreatment of primarily hydrous metal precipitate and unreacted lime solids. The use of this pond was discontinued in 1979. The V-2 Pond was emptied in 1989. Confirmatory soil sampling of the ponds was conducted in late 1991 and early 1992.

The unlined sludge ponds have attracted the attention of regulatory agencies and the public for many years, particularly because of the presence of radioactive materials, which was first confirmed in 1977. Waste sludges (lime solids) generated prior to 1979 were contained in the LRSP, Schmidt Lake, Arrowhead Lake, and the V2 pond. Much of the public concern has focused on the LRSP and Schmidt Lake because of their proximity to the Williamette River.

Some of the soils generated prior to 1976 were used as a beneficial soil amendment on land in the Farm Ponds Area. In 1978 TWCA changed its production process, which reduced the amount of radioactive materials in the lime solids. Lime solids generated after 1979 are now contained in four ponds located in the Farm Ponds Area.

TWCA is an active, operating producer of zirconium metal. Zircon sand, the principal ore, is generally imported from Australia. Zircon sand (zirconium orthosilicate) is concentrated by gravity, electrostatic, and magnetic methods to remove all but a small amount of impurities before being shipped to the TWCA facility. Zircon sands typically contain small amounts of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, which are concentrated during the TWCA production process. In addition, the zircon sands will contain 1% to 5% hafnium, which becomes a co-product with zirconium.

In 1989, an interim remedy was signed at the Sludge Ponds Unit. The following remedy was selected: excavation and removal of the sludges from the ponds; partial solidification of the sludge with a solidification agent such as Portland cement; construction of a monocell at an off-site permitted solid waste facility; transportation of the solidified sludge to the off-site facility and disposal in the monocell; and long-term operation and maintenance of the off-site monocell.

In 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received information provided by a former TWCA employee that radioactive materials had been buried in Schmidt Lake in the 1970s. These radioactive materials were buried in drums, which were allegedly located below the sludges that had been the subject of the operable unit remedial action. An electromagnetic survey identified potential additional source materials in and around Schmidt Lake. These source materials included several corroded metal drums containing sands with elevated amounts of thorium and uranium, and an underground storage tank containing liquid petroleum product.

In December 1992, as part of the Schmidt Lake Excavation Project (SLEP), 2,016 yards of materials containing zircon sands with elevated levels of thorium and uranium were removed from Schmidt Lake and transported by TWCA to the U.S. Ecology low level radioactive waste site in Washington for disposal.
Remedy:  The selected remedy combines source remediation with institutional controls to reduce risks to human health and environment posed by contaminants in surface and subsurface soil at the TWCA site. The selected remedy consists of the following: excavation of contaminated material exceeding the gamma radiation action level; transportation of the excavated material to an appropriate off-site facility for disposal; for areas of the site where modeling indicates that radon concentrations in future buildings be constructed using radon resistant construction methods; requirement that information on areas of subsurface polychloride biphenyl (PCB) and radionuclide contamination, which do not pose a risk if they are not disturbed, be incorporated into the TWCA facilities maintenance plan and be made available to future site purchasers or regulatory agencies; because the determination that action is not required for certain areas of the site is based on scenarios which do not allow unrestricted use, should excavation occur as part of future development of the TWCA Main Plant or the Soil Amendment Area, excavated material must be properly handled and disposed of in accordance with Federal and State laws; and institutional controls requiring that land use remain consistent with current industrial zoning.
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