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The 24-acre LCP-Holtrachem (Holtrachem) site is located approximately 20 miles west-northwest of Wilmington, North Carolina. The site includes a former chlor-alkali manufacturing plant in Riegelwood, North Carolina, and all nearby areas contaminated from plant operations. The Cape Fear RiverExit borders one side of the plant. The other three sides are fenced and bounded by International Paper’s Riegelwood Mill (IP)Exit. The nearby area includes residential, industrial and commercial uses.

The former chlor-alkali plant located on the site began operations in 1963 and ceased in 2000. It went through several ownership changes and the property is currently owned by Honeywell. The plant was originally constructed to provide chlorine gas, caustic soda, and bleach to the adjacent IP facility, using a mercury cell process. Other products were sold or were used in-house.

The Riegelwood Mill began operating in 1951 and currently produces solid bleach board, bristols and market pulp. Holtrachem discharged process wastewater generated during chlorine production to IP’s wastewater treatment system. IP personnel have indicated that until the late 1970s or early 1980s, Holtrachem process wastewater was discharged to IP’s North Bay treatment pond. Subsequently, Holtrachem’s discharge was relocated to the head of IP’s treatment works. The North Bay treatment pond served as a settling lagoon for wastewater treatment solids (WWTS) until 2002. It operated for over 20 years. Aroclor 1268, a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), was used in Holtrachem's mercury cell process and was later found to be in IP's settling pond.

Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. Both residents and businesses use the public water system for drinking water. The site is fenced to reduce access by the public. Information on the Superfund risk process is available.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

EPA, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the site’s Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), Honeywell and International Paper (IP), have worked together to clean up the site.

In 2002, EPA issued an Action Memorandum for a Removal Action to address all containerized hazardous wastes at the site at the site. Key components of the removal action included:

  • Removal of mercury from the 24 cells in the old cell building.
  • Dismantling and removing the cells and old cell building.
  • Removing various hazardous chemicals as well as some tanks, piping, asbestos, and other miscellaneous debris from the site.
    • This removal action resulted in: reclamation of 17.2 tons of elemental mercury, removal of over 885 tons plus 250 boxes (about 25 cubic yards per box) of hazardous waste to off-site treatment and disposal facilities, removal of about 350 tons of non-hazardous waste and debris, and recycling over 770 tons of scrap metals, including aluminum, brass, copper, stainless steel and titanium.

In 2008, EPA issued another Action Memorandum for a second Removal Action on the neighboring IP’s property after PCB contamination from the Holtrachem site was identified there. Key components of the removal action included excavating the PCB contamination from the IP property and stockpiling the material on the Holtrachem property within sealed thick liners until the final cleanup approach is selected and implemented.

  • This resulted in: excavating and stockpiling approximately 22,500 cubic yards of PCB contaminated sediment with PCB concentrations greater than 50 parts per million (ppm), excavation and placement of a total of about 70,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment with PCB concentrations less than 50 ppm in IP's landfill Cell #1, and treatment of about 6.5 million gallons of PCB-contaminated water.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

EPA, DEQ and the site’s PRP, Honeywell, are working together to clean up the site.

Hazardous chemicals above ground were removed from the plant in 2002-2004. Contamination that poses risks remains in the soil, sediment, sealed stockpiles and surface water. Currently, Honewell's contractor performs daily inspections and treats storm water. EPA selected the final cleanup plan, also known as a Record of Decision (ROD), for the site in September 2017. EPA is preparing to enter into negotiations with Honeywell for preparation of the Remedial Design for the cleanup.

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Activity and Use Limitations

At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.

For more background, see Institutional Controls.

At this site, ICs are not fully in place but are required in EPA's selected cleanup plan.

Contamination currently exists on-site above concentrations that are considered safe for use. The site is fenced with locked gates to restrict physical access to onsite contaminants and warning signs are posted. There is no current threat from the site to nearby residents.

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Sampling and Monitoring

Extensive sampling and monitoring has been conducted at the site. Air monitoring for mercury continues to be conducted daily. Summaries of sampling data can be found in the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study reports, which are part of the Administrative Record.

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Emergency Response and Removal

In 1999, EPA's emergency response program assisted the facility after Hurricane Floyd delivered over 24-inches of rain water at the site. In 2003, EPA's emergency response program assisted the facility in preparing for Hurricane Isabel.

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Enforcement Information

EPA successfully negotiated financial obligations with the PRPs.

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