Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:


Cleanup Activities

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The 33-acre Greenwood Chemical Co. site is located in Albemarle County, Virginia. From the 1940s to 1985, a manufacturing facility produced chemicals for industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical and photographic processes on site. Manufacturing activities ceased in 1985 following a toluene vapor explosion and fire that destroyed the process building and resulted in the deaths of four workers. Site activities, including the storage and disposal of leaking drums and the operation of seven uncontrolled wastewater treatment/disposal lagoons, contaminated soil, groundwater, surface water and sludge with hazardous chemicals. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

Starting in the early 1980s, the Virginia State Department of Health began to investigate the site due to reports of unauthorized and poorly managed waste disposal practices. By summer 1986, conditions at the Site had worsened to the point where emergency response by EPA was deemed necessary. More than 600 leaking and deteriorated drums, both at the surface and buried, were identified along with seven uncontrolled wastewater treatment/disposal lagoons having elevated concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) such as toluene and benzene, and semi-VOCs, such as naphthalene.

Starting in 1987, EPA initiated emergency response actions which included: the excavation and proper disposal of an estimated 500 buried drums; proper disposal of an estimated 100 surface drums and 32 pressurized gas cylinders; drainage and treatment of liquids from the three most highly contaminated lagoons; and temporarily capping the drained lagoons.

After completing environmental investigations and evaluating available cleanup options, in 1989 EPA issued a Record of Decision (1989 ROD) documenting the chosen cleanup remedy. The 1989 ROD selected a cleanup plan to address the highly contaminated lagoon sludges, contaminated soils, and containerized chemicals abandoned within the former manufacturing buildings (Operable Unit 1, or OU-1). In accordance with the 1989 ROD, EPA transported the abandoned chemicals that remained in the buildings to appropriate treatment and/or disposal facilities, and subsequently demolished several of the former chemical manufacturing buildings. The transportation and off-site disposal of contaminated building materials (over 100 roll-off containers) was completed in early 1993.

In 1996, EPA excavated approximately 15,000 tons of soil contaminated with organic chemicals from seven discrete source areas including former disposal lagoons, pits and trenches. The soil was transported from the site to a rail transfer station where it was placed in railcars for final shipment to a hazardous waste incinerator in Utah for treatment and disposal. This soil removal was completed in September 1996.

In 1990, EPA issued an interim ROD (1990 interim-ROD) selecting an interim cleanup plan to address contaminated groundwater beneath the Site (OU-2). The 1990 interim-ROD called for pumping contaminated groundwater, along with surface water from lagoons 4 and 5, to an on-site water treatment plant and discharging the cleansed water to an unnamed tributary to West Creek. Construction of the groundwater/surface water pump-and-treat system began in fall 1998 and was completed by summer 2000. Full scale operation of the pump-and-treat system began in March 2001.

A final ROD establishing groundwater cleanup goals was issued in September 2005. EPA expanded the existing groundwater pump-and-treat system with additional wells in December 2005. In November 2004, EPA completed cleaning out and properly disposing the last of the abandoned chemicals in a former laboratory. In May 2005, EPA completed the removal of contaminated sludge/sediment from Lagoons 4 and 5 and disposed of approximately 19,500 tons of arsenic-contaminated surface soil in an appropriate disposal facility. These areas were filled in with clean soil, graded and seeded to help prevent erosion.

The ongoing, periodic residential well sampling was last completed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) in February 2017. Residential wells were first sampled in the late 1980's and have continually shown no elevated site-related contaminants.  The next round of sampling is scheduled for Spring 2018.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site’s long-term remedy included excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil; thermal treatment and off-site disposal of abandoned chemicals; decontamination and dismantling of on-site process buildings; and proper disposal of demolition debris. Construction of the remedy took place between 1991 and 2005.

On March 15, 2012, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) took over responsibility for maintaining ongoing operations, maintenance and monitoring at the site. EPA had operated the facility for ten years and continues to provide technical support to VDEQ during its operations. Operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.

In July 2013, institutional controls were laid out in an Explanation of Significant Differences, which updated the list of appropriate land use restrictions to include the following: 

  1. residential use;
  2. on-Site potable use of groundwater;
  3. any activity that would adversely impact the operation of the pump and treat system;
  4. any removal of the soil cover without written permission of the EPA and/or VDEQ;
  5. deep excavation without a site-specific health and safety plan. Any soil excavated from the Waste Management Areas would need to be sampled and managed in an appropriate manner; and
  6. any new habitable buildings constructed over or within 100 feet of the groundwater contaminated by volatile contaminants should include, at a minimum, a foundation vapor barrier and the subsurface piping for a sub-slab depressurization system.

The most recent Five-Year Review completed in September 2013 found the remedial actions to be protective of human health and the environment. Institutional Controls were filed in the Albemarle County land records office on September 17, 2013.
The next Five-Year Review will be completed by September 2018.

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Sampling and Monitoring

The ongoing, periodic residential well sampling was last completed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) in February 2017. With property owners' permission, the next round of sampling is expected to be completed by VDEQ in Spring 2018. Residential wells were first sampled in the late 1980s and have continually shown no elevated site-related contaminants.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Cleanup also included removal actions, or short-term cleanups, to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. Actions between 1987 and 1990 included the excavation and removal of drums and smaller containers; removal and treatment of lagoon wastewater and sludge; treatment of sludge and placement of the treated sludge in a temporary lined vault; construction of a temporary soil/synthetic membrane cap over the former drum disposal area; repair of the soil cover; and construction of drainage swales around the lagoons to prevent erosion.

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