Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

C & R BATTERY CO., INC.
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The 11-acre C & R Battery Company site is located near the James River in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Between the early 1970s and 1985, C&R Battery Co., Inc. used the site to dismantle batteries from cars, trucks and commercial applications in order to recover lead and lead oxide. The process involved cutting open batteries and draining acid into on-site ponds. These practices contaminated soil, sediment and surface water with lead and other hazardous chemicals. Following cleanup, operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal, state and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions.

EPA oversaw the Potentially Responsible Parties' (PRPs) cleanup of the Site contamination. Soil and sediment cleanup efforts have been completed and currently, there is no sign of contamination from the Site in nearby surface water. The James River wetlands, approximately three miles downstream, are also free of Site contaminants. These wetlands are used for recreational purposes. Soil sampling confirmed that the cleanup was effective. EPA is currently overseeing the PRPs investigation into possible Site-related elevated levels of acid in the groundwater located below the Site's surface.

Continued protectiveness of the remedy requires the implementation of groundwater use restrictions and evaluation and possible implementation of a groundwater remedy to addresses low pH conditions in several monitoring wells.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site’s long-term remedy included stabilizing or solidifying lead-contaminated soils and sediments; disposing of the treated material in a nearby solid waste landfill; cleaning and closing a former on-site acid pond area; and covering of areas within and outside the pond with clean soil before replanting the entire site. Construction of the remedy took place between 1992 and 1993. Operation and maintenance activities are ongoing.

To date, EPA had reviewed post-cleanup reports for the Site and found the cleanup was so thorough that contaminant levels in soil are now below those used as cleanup goals for residential properties. This means the cleanup has gone beyond its goals, creating an area that is safe for both industrial use and residential use as well. Periodic groundwater sampling continued, due to acid detected in groundwater monitoring wells at the Site over an extended period of time. EPA had reviewed monitoring data and found that the PRPs failed to show that on-site battery operations did not contribute to the acid in the groundwater.

The third Five-Year Review of the Site, completed in September 2008, concluded that a remedial investigation/feasibility study of the groundwater was needed to determine the extent of the acid contamination. Verizon will collect background groundwater samples off-site to compare with groundwater on-site. EPA is preparing a groundwater order, which will be issued to Verizon.

In August 2015, the PRP constructed new background monitoring wells to determine if the acid is occurring.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

The 11-acre C & R Battery Company Site is in a rural and industrial area of Virginia. The James River is 650 feet north of the Site. Between the early 1970s and 1985, the company dismantled batteries from cars, trucks and commercial applications in order to recover lead and lead oxide. The process involved cutting open batteries and draining acid into on-site ponds. This practice resulted in lead contamination of soil, drainage-ditch sediments, and surface water. In 1982, the company detected high levels of lead in soils, in an on-site monitoring well, and drainage ditches leading to the James River. Approximately 300 people live within a mile of this Site. An estimated 1,200 people, living within three miles of the Site, draw drinking water from private wells that tap the same aquifer. The nearest residential well is about 1,250 feet from the Site. Prior to 1986, some company employees underwent routine health checkups and discovered that they had high levels of lead in their blood. Before the Site cleanup, the nearby population faced possible health risk from ingesting or coming in direct contact with contaminated soil, surface water, or groundwater. The possibility of inhaling contaminated airborne particles was also a health concern before cleanup took place. In July 1986, EPA took emergency action at the Site, mixing soils and pools of acid with lime to reduce acidity. Some contaminated soils were excavated and stored pending final disposal. EPA also installed drainage controls, a cap, and a fence to restrict direct access to contaminated areas of the Site. In January 1990, EPA completed a study that documented the nature and extent of contamination associated with the former battery-breaking operation. Several rounds of sampling showed that the groundwater did not pose a risk to human health or the environment. EPA also evaluated various long-term cleanup options. In March 1990, EPA and the Commonwealth of Virginia issued a formal legal document (Record of Decision) that outlined the way Site contamination would be addressed. The March 1990 cleanup decision called for: stabilizing or solidifying lead-contaminated soils and sediments; disposing of the treated material in a nearby solid waste landfill; cleaning and closing a former on-site acid pond area; and covering of areas within and outside the pond with clean soil before replanting the entire Site. EPA completed the design of this cleanup plan in spring of 1992. Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) for the Site funded the cleanup work which started in November 1992. All construction at the Site is finished. Groundwater monitoring is ongoing to help ensure the continued effectiveness of the cleanup action. In December 1997, EPA collected and analyzed soil samples from the Capitol Oil Company property, which is part of the Site. The samples were collected from an area that once housed multiple above-ground storage tanks. No elevated levels of lead were detected in the soil samples, however elevated levels of hydrocarbons were identified. The results of the soil analyses were forwarded to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) for potential follow-up activities. VDEQ did not find that there were elevated concentrations of hydrocarbon that had been released into the ground. EPA completed its third Five-Year Review (5YR) of the Site in 2008. As a result of that inspection, EPA concluded that Site activities contributed to the low pH in groundwater. Verizon will collect groundwater samples from wells located off-site to evaluate the "background" water quality pertaining to acid in this area. EPA is preparing a groundwater order, which will be issued to Verizon.

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Sampling and Monitoring

As a result of the third 5-Year Review of the Site, which was completed in September 2008, EPA concluded that a groundwater study was needed to determine the extent of acid contamination. Verizon collected background groundwater samples off-site to compare with groundwater on-site.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Cleanup has also included removal actions, or short-term cleanups, to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. Actions in 1986 included mixing soils and pools of acid with lime to reduce acidity; excavating and storing some soil on site; and installing drainage controls, a cap and a fence to restrict direct access to contaminated areas of the site.

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