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The Shaffer Equipment/Arbuckle Creek Area Site encompasses Shaffer Equipment Company property, Arbuckle Creek sediments, and other areas where site related contamination may be located. Site soils and sediment were historically contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were used by the Shaffer Equipment Company from 1970 to 1984 to manufacture electrical substations for the local coal mining industry.

The company stored nonessential, damaged, or outdated transformers and capacitors on the Site property. Leaks from the equipment, possible spills, and dumping practices contributed to PCB contamination in on-Site soils and washed into nearby Arbuckle Creek sediments. Low levels of contamination have also been observed in Arbuckle Creek within the boundary of the New River Gorge National River property. New River is home to sensitive environments and is also used for recreation and fishing.

The Site was added to EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) in May 2019.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) inspected the Shaffer Equipment/Arbuckle Creek Area Site in September 1984 and found several hundred transformers and capacitors. Analysis of a composite surface soil sample and a grab soil/sediment sample from a Site drainage ditch to Arbuckle Creek indicated elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the material. At the request of WVDNR, EPA investigated the site and subsequently performed two contaminated soil removal actions, excavating and disposing of contaminated soils offsite. The first removal action was performed from 1985 through 1987. The second removal action was conducted from 1991-1992. 

In 1997, EPA was notified that an act of vandalism at the Site had caused a fire at the remaining building that contained materials with PCBs. This resulted in a third removal action from 2001 to 2002. EPA conducted another assessment and contracted the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to design an impervious cap for the remaining contaminated soils and building debris. The USACE completed the construction of the cap in 2002. Additional engineering controls were constructed to prevent the offsite migration of PCBs. These included: a sheet pile cutoff wall along portions of Arbuckle Creek, surface diversion and drainage ditches, monitoring wells, and stone slope protection.

In 2017, area residents contacted EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to express their continued concern about residual PCB contamination at the Site and the potential migration into the surrounding residential area. EPA collected soil and sediment samples in June and December 2017 to determine if there was PCB contamination at residential properties and any residual PCB contamination remaining at the Site. A removal assessment was also conducted in Arbuckle Creek and other potential PCB source areas. The removal assessment showed evidence of trespassers at the Site and an area of erosion on the cap.

In October 2017 and March 2018, EPA held public meetings in Minden to share and review the June and December 2017 sampling results respectively, which found low PCB levels that did not indicate an immediate threat to human health. Additional sediment samples from Arbuckle Creek and soil samples from residences and the Shaffer Equipment Company property were also taken. Minden residents informed EPA that there are other possible sources of contamination that should be evaluated, including areas subject to discharge from former mining operations. Additional samples were collected in March 2018 and sampling results showed Arbuckle Creek sediment contamination approximately one mile downstream into the boundary of the New River Gorge National River (National Park Service) property, possibly the result of frequent flooding in the area. EPA also re-sampled two residences adjacent to the creek where PCB contamination was previously tested.

In May and early June 2018, in addition to frequent personal interaction with residents, EPA held additional listening and availability sessions for residents to further detail their concerns about the Site. EPA also conducted a wetlands survey and Site reconnaissance to identify other potential areas of concern, and additional soil and sediment samples were collected from Arbuckle Creek and both residential and non-residential properties. In late June 2018, EPA collected more samples based on community input from the Site reconnaissance. Samples were collected in residential yards and at other potential PCB sources in the area. These results will provide EPA with additional data to determine whether there may be a need for further evaluation or remediation in any of these other areas.

Sampling data from June 2017 through June 2018 and other site information are now available in the October 2018 Final Expanded Site Inspection Report (PDF, 159 pp).

EPA proposed the Site to the Superfund program's National Priorities List (NPL) on September 13, 2018. On May 13, 2019, EPA announced that it is adding the Site to the NPL. The designation was finalized following EPA’s review of comments received during the 60-day public comment period.

Since the Site was proposed to the NPL, EPA has been working proactively, along with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), reviewing data already collected, engaging with the community and local officials, and conducting the Remedial Investigation (RI).

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What Is the Current Site Status?

February 2020 Update (PDF)

Remedial Investigation

The initial phase of sampling for the Remedial Investigation began in November 2019. Additional sampling may occur based on these results. The goals of the sampling are to characterize soil contamination, determine site related contaminants, and better characterize groundwater. This information will be used to determine if the site poses risks to human health and the environment. The initial list of contaminants that will be sampled include: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), metals, pesticides, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, and dioxins/furans.

The remedial investigation will include:

  • Sampling shallow and deep soil
  • Drilling and sampling groundwater monitoring wells and conducting geophysical testing
  • Sampling surface water and sediment along Arbuckle Creek
  • Collecting wipe samples at residential properties for PCBs

Areas to be investigated include:

  • Former Shaffer Equipment property and adjoining areas
  • Residential properties
  • Britt Bath House
  • Berwind Green Hill Mine Dump
  • Rocklick Road
  • Arbuckle Creek, wetlands, and downstream area

Map of Sampling Areas for Phase I of the RI (PDF)

Removal Activities

Based on community input and assessments, the Removal Program chose to conduct an action to excavate soil from an area adjacent to the capped area and make minor repairs to the capped area. The removal action began in October 2019 and was completed in February 2020.


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Sampling and Monitoring

The sampling results to date show that there is no immediate threat to human health. Accordingly, no immediate action is necessary.

Sampling data from June 2017 through June 2018 and other site information are now available in the October 2018 Final Expanded Site Inspection Report (PDF, 159 pp)

Previous sampling results and information can be found on EPA’s Response Website.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Shaffer Equipment Removal

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