HOOKER CHEMICAL & PLASTICS CORP./RUCO POLYMER CORP.
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The Hooker Chemical & Plastics Corp./Ruco Polymer Corp. site is located in Hicksville, New York. The 14-acre area is the location of a chemical manufacturing facility that operated from 1945 to 2002. Industrial wastewater discharges, as well as leaks and chemical spills, contaminated site soils and groundwater with hazardous chemicals.
The site was used for industrial purposes beginning in 1946. Two companies – the Insular Chemical Company and the Rubber Company of America – occupied the area at that time. In 1956, the two companies merged, becoming the Rubber Corporation of America. In 1965, the Hooker Chemical and Plastics Corporation (Hooker) purchased the company; it was known as the Ruco Division. Hooker has undergone several name changes. It is currently known as the Occidental Chemical Corporation (OCC). In March 1982, the employees bought the company and it became the Ruco Polymer Corporation. In 2000, the Bayer Corporation purchased the facility, which subsequently closed in 2002.
Beginning in 1946, the facility manufactured various polymers, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC),styrene/butadiene latex, vinyl chloride/vinyl acetate copolymer and polyurethane, as well as ester plasticizers. When it closed in 2002, the facility was manufacturing products such as polyester, polyols and powder-coating resins. Major site features include two main production plants, a pilot plant located between these plants, a warehouse building, an administration and laboratory building, numerous aboveground chemical storage tanks and associated piping, and several recharge basins.
During site operations from 1956 to 1975, industrial wastewater from the facility was discharged to six on-site recharge basins or sumps. This wastewater contained, among other things, vinyl chloride, trichloroethylene, barium and cadmium soap, vinyl acetate, organic acids and styrene condensate. As a result of these releases, groundwater downgradient from the site has been contaminated. Currently, only non-contact cooling water is discharged into Sump 4. Beginning in 1975, a concrete settling basin was used to store ester waste prior to being incinerated on site. Hazardous wastes were stored in drums on site until they were disposed of at a permitted off-site facility.
From 1946 to 1978, the pilot plant, which is used for small scale and trial production, used a heat transfer fluid called Therminol, which contained PCBs. During the operation of the facility, there was a release of PCBs to the soil adjacent to the pilot plant. Surface water runoff and truck traffic spread some of this contaminated soil to surrounding areas. OCC has conducted several investigations since 1984 to determine the extent of PCB contamination around the pilot plant.
After investigations, EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in June 1986.
Following cleanup, the site no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment. Long-term groundwater treatment and monitoring are ongoing.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
The following steps have been undertaken by OCC under EPA oversight to address contamination at the site:
PCB-Contaminated Soils: EPA selected excavation and removal as the remedy for PCB-contaminated soils in the site’s 1990 Record of Decision, or ROD. Cleanup finished in 1992.
Hooker/Ruco Facility: EPA selected the remedy for the facility in the site’s 1994 ROD. It included additional soil sampling, excavation of shallow soils in limited areas, soil flushing and control of contaminated groundwater beneath the site. Remedial actions included the excavation and off-site disposal of 310 tons of PCB-contaminated soil; removal and off-site disposal of the concrete tank in Sump 1, and installation of a soil flushing system at Sump 1 to enhance the migration of the remaining minimal chemical presence from the unsaturated soils to the groundwater. Water flushing injections took place at the sump in August 2002, March 2003 and February 2004. Final soil flushing injection took place in March 2005. Contaminated groundwater at the site is being addressed by the downgradient groundwater remedy, as noted below.
Downgradient Groundwater: EPA selected the site’s groundwater remedy in the site’s 2000 ROD. It included remediation of a distinct subplume of groundwater contaminated with vinyl chloride, the primary contaminant at the site, using an innovative treatment system called “biosparging.” Biosparging is a form of bioremediation that introduces air/oxygen into the aquifer to enhance the natural breakdown of the vinyl chloride. Construction of the biosparging system was completed in September 2012. The remaining contaminated groundwater, comprised of the downgradient comingled plume, is operating under state authority to effectively remove a mix of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emanating from the Hooker/Ruco, Northrup, and NWIRP sites.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The site is being addressed in three operable units: the first addresses contaminated soils at the Hooker/Ruco Facility, the second addressed the polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated surface soils, and the third operable unit addresses both the downgradient commingled contaminated groundwater plume beyond the Hooker/Ruco Facility and contaminated groundwater beneath the Hooker/Ruco Facility. The soil cleanup associated with the first and second operable units has been completed. The groundwater directly beneath the Hooker/Ruco facility is currently being treated through biosparging. This action is on-going. Downgradient groundwater beneath the site is commingled with the downgradient contaminated groundwater beneath two adjoining sites, the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Corporation (Northrop) and Naval Weapons Industrial Weapons Reserve Plant (NWIRP) sites. The downgradient groundwater contamination is being treated at the groundwater treatment plant operated by Northrup. This action is also on-going. In 2000, the Bayer Corporation purchased the Hooker/Ruco facility and closed the facility in 2002. Consequently, Bayer has also had to follow the requirements of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) hazardous waste facility closure and corrective action requirements.
The NYSDEC corrective action undertaken by Bayer includes the removal of soil with remaining PCB contamination, completed in May 2015, and a soil vapor investigation, documented in a report submitted to NYSDEC in February 2106. The NYSDEC has finalized its plan to control soil vapor in a warehouse building immediately to the east of the site and to address soil vapor at the site property by the placement of an environmental easement on the property to assure that mitigation measures are put in place for any future redevelopment of the site. This plan is part of a comprehensive Site Management Plan finalized in September 2017. Construction of the three operable unit remedies required by EPA have all been completed. EPA generated a Preliminary Closeout Report for the site in July 2015 signifying that construction had been completed in accordance with design requirements and that the systems were operating as designed. EPA completed a five-year review of the site in August 2016 which concluded that the constructed remedial actions remain protective of human health and the environment in the short-term; long-term protectiveness was achieved upon filing of the environmental easement for the site property in the County Office of Records in June 2017. The next five-year review for the site will be completed by August 2021.