FLORIDA STEEL CORP.
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On this page:
- What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
- What Is the Current Site Status?
- Activity and Use Limitations
- Enforcement Information
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The 151-acre Florida Steel Corp. site is located in Martin County, Florida, 10 miles east of Lake Okeechobee. It includes the area where Florida Steel Corporation, now known as Gerdau AmeriSteel, operated a steel mill from 1970 to 1982. EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983 because of contaminated groundwater, sediment and soil resulting from facility operations. EPA, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Gerdau AmeriSteel, the site’s potentially responsible party (PRP), have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. By treating and monitoring groundwater, conducting required Five-Year Reviews and enforcing institutional controls, EPA, FDEP and the site’s PRP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
The site’s PRP leads site investigation and cleanup activities, with oversight provided by EPA and FDEP.
- In the mid-1980s, the site’s PRP removed aboveground EC dust piles. In 1987 and 1988, the PRP incinerated PCB-contaminated soil.
- The PRP began OU-1 soil cleanup activities in 1995 and completed them the following year. The PRP solidified 100,000 tons of contaminated soil and then disposed of it in the on-site RCRA landfill. The PRP began cleanup of the Southwest Wetland in 1995. The PRP dug up contaminated sediment from wetland areas with the highest levels of metals and solidified it along with other contaminated soil and disposed of the soil and sediment in the on-site landfill. The PRP used the remaining dug-up sediment with low metal concentrations (between 160 and 600 ppm) as a soil amendment in upland areas on site. The PRP replanted the affected portion of the wetland with native wetland plants.
- In 1996, the PRP installed the groundwater treatment system at the site and began operating it.
- In 2009, the PRP shut the system down when a wildfire destroyed most of the spray heads and some of the electrical services, rendering the spray irrigation system non-functional. During this period, EPA, FDEP and the PRP evaluated whether remaining groundwater contamination could be successfully treated using monitored natural attenuation. After determining this approach would not be successful, EPA and FDEP decided that it would be necessary to restart the groundwater treatment system. The PRP is currently working to restart the system. The PRP conducts groundwater monitoring twice each year.
- EPA completed the site’s third Five-Year Review in 2011 and found that the site’s cleanup approach continues to protect people and the environment from remaining site contamination. To be protective over the long term, the Five-Year Review recommended making modifications to the restrictive covenant and undertaking an additional evaluation of the groundwater cleanup approach.
- The site's fourth Five-Year Review was completed in 2016. Two recommendations are offered: continuouse semi-annual monitoring of the wells and groundwater, and redevelopment to address animal burrows in the capped area.
What Is the Current Site Status?
The most recent Five Year Review was published by EPA HQs in 2016. Because the remedial actions at all OUs are protective in the short term, the Site’s remedy is protective of human health and the environment in the short term.
EPA divided the site into two areas, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. OU-1 addresses soil contamination. OU-2 addresses contamination in the Southwest Wetland and groundwater.
- In 1992, EPA issued the cleanup plan for OU-1. It included digging up and disposing of 600 cubic yards of soil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) levels above 50 parts per million (ppm) off site, and digging up and solidifying 37,000 cubic yards of emission control (EC) dust and metals-contaminated soil and ash, soil containing lead above 600 ppm, and soil containing PCB levels between 25 and 50 ppm on site. The plan also included controlling surface water runoff from the site; disposing of all solidified material in an on-site, double-lined Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) landfill with a RCRA cap; and periodic monitoring of surface water and groundwater quality for up to 30 years.
- In 1994, EPA issued the cleanup plan for OU-2. It included extracting groundwater and with clean water from an upgradient portion of the site to meet federal and state drinking water standards, and disposing of the blended water by spraying it onto nearby fields. The plan for cleaning up the upper portion of the Southwest Wetland included removing contaminated sediment and revegetating the dug-up wetland area. Dug-up wetland sediment containing lead at levels above 600 ppm was to be solidified and disposed of in the on-site landfill.
- The 2016 FYR was completed in August of 2016. There were 2 recommendations.
- There are animal burrows in the capped area. This should be fixed in the near future with the anticipated redevelopment of the site.
- The OU2 remedy has been offline since 2009 and it may not be practical to restart it, although several shallow and deep wells continue to exceed cleanup standards and there is some evidence of deep aquifer migration. The groundwater is continued to be monitored semi-annually. The main contaminant is sodium. The GW sodium concentrations are close to the cleanup standards. EPA and PRP are both looking into smaller actions that can clean up the sodium plume. In October 2016 the PRP retained an outside consultant (CBI Inc) to perform the restoration work which included relocation of several gopher tortoises to a designated recipient site. The work was completed in November 2016. EPA and PRP are planning to have a meeting soon to decide on the next step of action suitable for this site.
Activity and Use Limitations
At this site, activity and use limitations that EPA calls institutional controls are in place. Institutional controls play an important role in site remedies because they reduce exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use. They also guide human behavior. For instance, zoning restrictions prevent land uses – such as residential uses – that are not consistent with the level of cleanup.
For more background, see Institutional Controls.
The original ROD did not include institutional controls. The 2013 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) modified the OU1 and OU2 ROD to document the selection and inclusion of institutional controls as part of the remedy for the Site. Institutional controls cited in the ESD include: limiting future uses of the property to industrial or commercial, restricting any future use of the landfill area, which can impact the integrity of the landfill, and restricting the use of contaminated groundwater until cleanup levels and remedial action objectives have been achieved.
Enforcing environmental laws is a central part of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. When warranted, EPA will take civil or criminal enforcement action against violators of environmental laws.The PRPs have cooperated with EPA and have assumed financial responsibility for the cleanup.