OMEGA CHEMICAL CORPORATION
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On this page:
- What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
- What Is the Current Site Status?
- Enforcement Information
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The Omega Chemical Corporation facility was a refrigerant and solvent recycling, reformulation and treatment facility that operated in Whittier, CA from about 1976 to 1991. As a result of spills, leaks, and other chemical releases, Omega contaminated the soil and groundwater at its Whittier property with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE) and Freon.
Contaminated groundwater extends from the former Omega property more than four miles to the southwest into the cities of Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk, CA. Contaminants from other industrial facilities in the area have commingled with and contributed to the Omega contamination, creating a large area of regional groundwater contamination.
Several drinking water wells in the cities of Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, and Norwalk that use local groundwater have been shut down or equipped with water treatment systems to remove the contaminants. Drinking water served to residents and businesses is tested regularly prior to distribution to the public to ensure that it meets all State and Federal drinking water standards.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
Prior to 1995, the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) was the lead regulatory agency for the former Omega facility.
In 1995 and 1996, EPA oversaw initial cleanup activitites at the site, including the removal of approximately 3,000 drums of hazardous waste, 60 cubic yards of hardened resin material, and hundreds of empty contaminated drums, and the excavation and removal of "grossly contaminated" near-surface soil. This work was carried out at the site by approximately 170 potentially responsible parties (PRPs) that had sent at least 10 tons of hazardous materials to the former Omega property. The 170 or so parties organized themselves into a group called the Omega Chemical Site Potentially Responsible Parties Organized Group, or “OPOG.” OPOG has carried out a variety of cleanup actions at the site over the last 20 years.
OPOG has constructed and operates three treatment systems to address contaminated soil and groundwater at the site. EPA oversees operation of the systems. The three systems are operating as part of two Operable Units (OU1 and OU3) as explained below:
OPERABLE UNIT-1: GROUNDWATER REMEDY AT AND NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY
In September 2005, based on a July 2005 "Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis" (EE/CA), EPA issued an Action Memorandum which authorized construction and operation of an initial groundwater extraction and treatment system. The EE/CA and Action Memorandum are available in the "Site Documents & Reports" section. The OU1 groundwater extraction and treatment system began operation in 2009 and, as of December 2018, has treated more than 42 million gallons of contaminated groundwater and removed approximately 969 pounds of contaminants from the groundwater. The system is currently removing about 10 pounds of contaminants per year.
OPERABLE UNIT-1: SOIL REMEDY AT AND NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY
In September 2008, based on a November 2007 Remedial Investigation report and May 2008 Feasibility Study report, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) selecting a soil cleanup remedy for OU-1. The RI and FS Reports and the ROD are available in the "Site Documents & Reports" section. The remedial action selected in the ROD consists of a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system to remove and treat contaminants in the soil. In 2010, OPOG entered into a Consent Decree to design, construct, and operate the SVE system. As of December 2018, the OU1 SVE system has removed more than 9,600 pounds of contaminants and currently removes about 80 pounds of contaminants per year. Operation of the SVE system prevents contaminants in soil from entering overlying buildings at unsafe levels.
OPERABLE UNIT-3: INDOOR AIR REMEDY AT AND NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY
In 2009, OPOG entered into an agreement with EPA that led to the design, construction, and operation of a second soil vapor extraction system to address indoor air contamination at buildings at and near OU1. The 2009 agreement, as modified in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014, also requires OPOG to continue periodic indoor air monitoring in several buildings near the former Omega facility. As of December 2018, the OU3 SVE system has removed more than 2,250 pounds of contaminants and currently removes about 85 pounds of contaminants per year. Operation of the SVE system prevents contaminants in soil from entering overlying buildings at unsafe levels.
What Is the Current Site Status?
As described above in the "What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site" section, three treatment systems are operating as Operable Units 1 and 3 to address contaminated soil and groundwater at the site. As of December 2018, the three systems have collectively removed more than 12,800 pounds of contaminants from the soil and groundwater at the former Omega Chemical property and are currently removing about 150 pounds of contaminants per year. .
OPERABLE UNIT-2: GROUNDWATER INVESTIGATION AND REMEDIATION
At Operable Unit 2, pre-design work for a regional groundwater water extraction and treatment system is underway and expected to continue until early 2019, with detailed design work to follow. Construction of the remedy is expected to begin in 2021. The system will remediate contaminated groundwater in an area extending from OU1 to about Telegraph Road in Santa Fe Springs, a distance of approximately three miles. The Consent Decree addresses a majority of the work required by a September 2011 Record of Decision (ROD), as updated by a June 2016 "Explanation of Significant Differences" (ESD). The remedy requires the construction and operation of multiple groundwater extraction wells to pump contaminated groundwater to the surface, water treatment facilities to remove the contaminants, and pipelines to deliver the treated groundwater to one or more end users. It also requires the construction of new groundwater monitoring wells and monitoring of new and existing wells.
The OU2 work is being conducted in accordance with a March 31, 2017, agreement between EPA and 66 “Potentially Responsible Parties” (PRPs) to spend an estimated $70 million to implement the majority of EPA’s 2011 Record of Decision for OU2. The 2010 RI/FS report, 2011 ROD, and 2016 ESD are available in the "Site Documents & Reports" section.
The PRPs also agreed to install and sample three groundwater monitoring well clusters to provide data that EPA will use to determine what additional investigation and/or remediation is needed to address contaminated groundwater downgradient of Telegraph Road. A work plan describing the well installation ("Final leading edge investigation workplan") is available in the "Site Documents & Data" section. The three well clusters were installed between September 2017 and October 2018.
To provide up to date data for remedial design, EPA and the PRPs have been analyzing groundwater samples from existing OU2 groundwater wells semi-annually or annually since about 2008. The PRPs collected and analyzed samples in December 2015, October 2016, September 2017, and September 2018, and will continue sampling annually. Reports with 2016, 2017, and 2018 data are available in the "Site Documents & Data" section.
Cleanup work at the site is being carried out in accordance with a 2001 Consent Decree (OU1), 2009 Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent (OU3), 2010 Consent Decree (OU1 soil), and 2016 Consent Decree (OU2). These documents are available in the "Site Documents & Reports" section.