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The ABC One-Hour Cleaners Superfund Site (the Site) is located at 2127 Lejeune Boulevard in Jacksonville, Onslow County, North Carolina within the County’s commercial retail district. The one-acre Site is located approximately two miles southeast of Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Tarawa Terrace, a property located south of the Site, serves as a housing community for non-commissioned officers assigned to the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base.

From 1964 to 2005, ABC One-Hour Cleaners served as a small family-owned dry-cleaning business. The Site consisted of three buildings that housed separate activities: the front, middle, and north buildings. The middle building housed the dry-cleaning operations which included the use of the washer and septic tank system. Tetrachloroethylene (PCE), a common dry-cleaning solvent, was used as a part of the operations and was improperly released into the soil and groundwater by the septic tank system. PCE was also improperly buried outside the middle building. [CA1]  These improper disposal practices resulted in soil and groundwater contamination.

In 2005, ABC One-Hour Cleaners was sold and renamed as A-1 Cleaners where it served only as a drop-off location. All operations were terminated in 2011. Since 2017, the three buildings were demolished leaving only the concrete foundation.

In 1989, the EPA and North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR, now the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality or "NCDEQ"), identified PCE contaminants of concern (COCs) in the soil and groundwater at levels that posed an unacceptable risk to the public and environment.

The unacceptable contaminant levels resulted in the Site being placed on the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

A Superfund Site may be divided into several distinct areas, operable units (OUs). The characteristics for the distinct areas may be based on the contaminated media (which includes soil, groundwater, air, sediment, etc.); geographic location; and extent of contamination.  To support in the cleanup activities, the ABC One-Hour Cleaners Site was divided into two OUs which are based on the contaminated media:

  • OU1, which addressed the groundwater contamination
  • OU2, which addressed the soil contamination.

The EPA conducted a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study where the soil and groundwater were evaluated to determine the most appropriate cleanup methods to address the contamination.

The findings from these investigations were included in the 1994 Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study which identified several cleanup options to address the soil and groundwater contamination. The cleanup methods that were selected to address the groundwater and soil contamination were presented in the Records of Decision. The selected groundwater and soil cleanup methods were pump-and-treat with monitored natural attenuation and soil vapor extraction (SVE), respectively.

The cleanup methods were constructed as prescribed in the OU1 and OU2 Remedial Designs.

The 1994 OU1 Record of Decision required the pump-and-treat groundwater cleanup method to operate for seven years. The pump-and-treat cleanup method was turned off to allow the groundwater to return to natural conditions.

Groundwater monitoring activities were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the groundwater cleanup efforts by determining whether the COC levels were lower than the levels that were detected before the cleanup method was in operation. Data generated from the groundwater monitoring activities determined that the selected cleanup method did remove approximately 15 percent of the contamination from the groundwater.

The selected soil cleanup method, SVE, was dismantled due to severe impacts sustained by Hurricane Irene.

The 2013 Five-Year Review (FYR) and 2014 FYR Addendum identified several issues and that indicate that the selected cleanup methods were not protective of  human health and the environment in the long-term. One of the issues that was identified was the Site contamination had not been thoroughly characterized. The characterization of the Site contamination will determine the extent of groundwater and soil contamination, the existence of vapor intrusion in neighboring buildings, and the relationship between the soil and groundwater media. By better characterizing the Site contamination, a more effective groundwater and soil cleanup method can be selected.

Sampling activities conducted as a result of the issues and recommendations identified in the 2013 FYR and 2014 FYR Addendum. Early sampling activities determined that the soil contamination serves as the ‘source’ to the groundwater contamination. This determination suggests that until the soil contamination is addressed, the groundwater COC levels will not change. As a result, the EPA merged OU1 and OU2 into one effort, OU3.

The sampling activities, which began in 2015, were completed in 2017 and were discussed in the 2018 OU3 Focused Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study. In considering the soil serving as the source to the Site contamination, the EPA determined that the cleanup activities be conducted in phases where the soil contamination be addressed before the groundwater. The OU3 Focused Feasibility Study identified cleanup method alternatives that will effectively address the soil and groundwater contamination.

The EPA conducted the fifth FYR where, as determined in the previous FYR, long-term protectiveness was not achieved due to concerns regarding the air quality of active buildings located near the Site. To address this concern, a Vapor Intrusion Study (VI Study) was recommended to be conducted in the neighboring buildings. The determinations of the VI Study were required to be discussed in an addendum to the fifth FYR.

As the cleanup activities will be conducted by phase where the soil contamination will be addressed prior to the contaminated groundwater media, the EPA issued the 2018 OU3 Interim Action Record of Decision for Soil (IROD). The IROD presented the EPA selected soil remedy, in-situ thermal remediation with SVE (ISTR). The groundwater remedy will be selected in a subsequent decision document after the soil cleanup method has operated and the Site conditions have been characterized.

The effectiveness of the ISTR is measured by the achievement of the EPA-established Remedial Action Objectives (RAOs) and Remedial Goals. RAOs are narrative goals that ensure the protection of human health and the environment that are specific to the Site conditions. The RAOs for the soil cleanup method were developed based on the current and reasonably anticipated future land use (commercial). The RAOs are:

  • RAO 1: Prevent ingestion/dermal contact/and/or inhalation of source material and contaminated soil vapors.
  • RAO 2: Reduce or eliminate long-term migration of contaminated soil into the groundwater.

The RGs serve as numeric endpoints that indicate that the  soil cleanup method is effective. The RGs include:  

ABC One-Hour Cleaners Soil Cleanup Levels (mg/kg)
Contaminant PCE TCE DCE VC
Source Material 0.0063 0.021 0.41 0.00021

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The septic tank system, where a significant amount of PCE was improperly released and buried, was removed during a time-critical removal that was conducted by the EPA Removal Program in 2019. Although the removal activities supported the cleanup activities, the source material remains unaddressed until the ISTR is constructed and operational. To ensure the source material is addressed, the EPA designed the ISTR to ensure that it is properly constructed and operational. The remedy design for the selected soil cleanup method was completed in April 2020.

The EPA conducted a VI Study in the neighboring buildings to ensure that the air quality was not impaired due to influence from the Site contamination. The VI Study concluded that no impairments were detected in the buildings’ air quality and therefore, the EPA determined that the Site conditions are short-term protective. The results of the VI Study and EPA determination were presented in the May 2020 Fifth FYR Addendum.

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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.

EPA uses a number of methods to protect human health and the environment. In addition to physically cleaning the contamination from a Site, EPA also uses more administrative tools that may serve the purpose of restricting access to a contaminated area or prohibiting the use of contaminated groundwater for consumption. These tools are called Institutional Controls (ICs).

For the ABC One-Hour Cleaners Superfund Site, a restriction will be placed on the Site property. This restriction will do the following:

To ensure no receptors are exposed to the contaminated soil and groundwater, the following activities have been conducted:

  • Maintaining the concrete slab that was the foundation of the former buildings; and
  • Constructing an 8-foot chain-linked fence around the perimeter of the concrete slab.

The selected remedy also includes several restrictions that will be implemented once the ISTR has been constructed. The restrictions will ensure the following:

  • Limit the future use of the Site to only commercial/industrial use;
  • Restrict the exposure to the contaminated groundwater; and
  • Restrict the exposure to the contaminated soil.

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Sampling and Monitoring

A number of sampling events have been conducted at the Site and neighboring properties to determine the PCE levels in the soil and groundwater so that a more appropriate cleanup method is selected and designed. These sampling efforts have been conducted since 2011 and will be completed by the Spring 2019. Data gathered from the sampling events determined that PCE contamination remains in the soil at the Site and extends from the surface to approximately 65 feet below ground surface. Groundwater contamination was detected at a depth of 150 feet below ground surface at the Site. The groundwater plume, however, extends from the Site eastward for approximately one mile. The following types of sampling efforts have been conducted from 2011 to 2019:

Hand Augering:  The majority of the soil samples were collected using a hand aurgering method to depths of 0 to ten feet below ground surface. Four sampling events using a hand auger were conducted within the 2011-2019 timeframe.

Membrane Interface Probing:  Two sampling events have involved the use of Membrane Interface Probing (MIP). MIP samples were collected from the Site and several properties located within 0.5 miles from the Site. MIP sampling methods evaluated the soil and sediment (soil that is in contact with groundwater) to approximately 150 feet below ground surface.

Installation and Sampling Groundwater Monitoring Wells:  A total of ten cluster wells (two wells that are installed at different depths and are located close to each other)



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Green Remediation

EPA is creating opportunities for cleaner, greener ways to manage the contamination at its hazardous waste sites. Such ways include minimizing fuel usage for vehicles used by the EPA and EPA contractors as well as the machinery used to sample and clean contamination; methods used to clean the contaminated sites; and volume of water used to operate groundwater machinery.

For the ABC One-Hour Cleaners Superfund Site, cleaner, greener methods have been adopted during the development of the Focused Remedial Investigation.  The total cost savings that has been recorded from 2015 to 2019 is approximately $7,500. Efforts to continue practicing cleaner, greener ways to address the Site’s contamination will be made throughout the life of the cleanup efforts and will be shared publicly.

More information about the EPA Green Remediation program is available online.

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