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The Fields Brook site, located about 55 miles east of Cleveland in Ashtabula, Ohio, is a 6-square-mile watershed of a brook where up to 19 separate facilities have operated since 1940. Activities range from metals fabrication to chemicals production. Fields Brook flows into the Ashtabula River, which flows into Lake Erie about one-and-a-half-miles downstream of the site. Fields Brook sediment and soil from the Fields Brook floodplain/wetlands area are contaminated with a wide variety of contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated solvents and metals.
What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?
The Fields Brook site is comprised of four miles of brook, the nearby Ashtabula River, and multiple industrial areas. The cleanup, which included excavation of contaminated sediment, floodplains, and soil, was done to prevent recontamination of downstream areas of Fields Brook and the Ashtabula River. The river was cleaned up separately from 2006 through 2013 under the Great Lakes Legacy Act, or GLLA, and U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers navigation maintenance dredging. More information on the GLLA activities to clean up the Ashtabula River.
Cleanup is ongoing in the area known as the Detrex Corp. facility where "recovery wells" allow the collection and removal of liquid containing high levels of volatile and semi-volatile contaminants such as trichloroethylene, hexachlorobenzene and hexachlorobutadiene from underneath the property. Because this liquid is so heavy, it tends to sink when it enters groundwater. About 30,000 gallons of liquid have been removed.
EPA modified its September 1997 decision document for the Detrex source area (PDF) (22 pp, 3.26 MB, About PDF) in 2014 regarding containment and removal of the source area from Fields Brook. This modification, called an Explanation of Significant Differences, or ESD, also addresses the recovery of heavy liquid in the on-site source area. Since then, the modification has resulted in the removal of 10,000 gallons of heavy liquid from beneath the site.
Cleanup activities at the other source areas were mostly completed between 2000 and 2002, with additional activities at Cristal, formerly Millennium Inorganics, completed in 2008.
Fields Brook Action Group (several companies potentially responsible for the contamination) monitors Fields Brook each year to make sure the water, sediment, and floodplain are not recontaminated.
What Is the Current Site Status?
EPA has completed a five-year review of the Fields Brook site(PDF)(157pp, 38.4MB, About PDF). The Superfund law requires regular checkups of sites that have been cleaned up – with waste managed on-site – to make sure the cleanup continues to protect people and the environment. This was the fourth review of the site.
This review included an evaluation of background information, cleanup requirements, effectiveness of the cleanup, and maintenance and monitoring efforts. It also looked at ways to operate more efficiently.
The review found the cleanup continues to protect people and the environment. The next scheduled review will be in 2024.
More information is available at the Ashtabula County District Library, 4335 Park Ave, Ashtabula, and the Kent State Library, 335 W. 44th St., Ashtabula, and on this web page under Site Documents & Data.
If you have questions or need further information, contact the community involvement coordinator or remedial project manager.