Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

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Current Activities
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in conjunction with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), are conducting a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the Eagle Picher Carefree Battery Superfund site (Site). A Remedial Investigation is an investigation to determine the extent of the contamination at the site and potential risk to the community. A Feasibility Study will examine and evaluate various remedial cleanup alternatives. The current RI/FS will focus primarily on collecting data to determine if any risk is present to residents from vapor intrusion. From June 2015 through February 2016, the EPA conducted soil gas and indoor air sampling in areas south of the former Eagle Picher Site. In the first phase EPA collected external soil gas samples from approximately 40 locations near homes located along the groundwater plume area. Concentrations of volatile compounds present in the soil gas sampling indicated a potential for contaminants to migrate into indoor air. So, during the second phase indoor air and subslab soil gas samples were collected from 11 homes that likely had the potential for vapor intrusion. To account for seasonal variability, two rounds
of indoor air sampling was conducted first in November 2015 and then again in February 2016. Out of the 11 homes sampled only 1 home had indoor air concentrations that exceeded EPA and NMED screening levels. All others were either below the NMED screening level or below both EPA and NMED screening levels. Screening levels are protective of human health and are set by the agencies as a benchmark to evaluate the data. Merely exceeding a screening level does not mean there is an imminent health threat. It indicates that additional investigation is warranted. Based on soil gas data collected in 2015, EPA believes the area of soil gas investigation needs
to be expanded to ensure the full extent of the soil gas migration is characterized.

EPA will begin sampling in this area in two phases starting in May 2016. In the first phase only exterior soil gas samples will be collected. If indoor air samples are required, EPA will be contacting individual homeowners to gain access for sampling. Indoor air sampling will require samplers to be left in homes for a period of 24 hours. Subslab soil sampling will require collection of samples underneath the home by drilling a small hole through the foundation.

Past Activities
An RI/FS was completed for the Site in early 2014, and the EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) on September 29, 2014. During this RI/FS, the EPA collected extensive samples of soil, soil gas, construction debris and groundwater to characterize the extent of contamination and risk to human health and the environment. Based on the data collected, the EPA proposed a remedy in the 2014 ROD for treating soil, construction debris and groundwater contamination present at the Site. During the ROD process, the EPA determined that there was insufficient data to characterize vapor intrusion risk in indoor air to residents living in homes that are located above the contaminated groundwater plume. Therefore, EPA has decided to address the contamination at the Site in two Operable Units:
• Operable Unit 1 (OU1) consists of soil, construction
debris and groundwater
• Operable Unit 2 (OU2) consists of indoor air

The EPA and NMED will continue to provide information regarding the cleanup of the Eagle Picher Site to the community through public meetings, announcements published in the El Defensor Chieftain newspaper, fact sheets, EPA’s website, and the Administrative Record file for the Site.

Site Location
The Eagle Picher Site is located in the City of Socorro, Socorro County, New Mexico. The City of Socorro is located in the central part of Socorro County, New Mexico along the Rio Grande Valley. The Site encompasses two large tracts that are approximately equal to 173 acres and located along I-25, 2 miles north of Socorro, New Mexico.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through state and federal actions.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Several investigations have been completed to determine the sources of site contamination. In addition, municipal and private drinking water supply wells have been sampled to make sure the water supply meets state and federal drinking water standards. Since 1987, the City of Socorro has installed new water lines and connected residences with contaminated well water to the city’s water supply.

Following completion of the site’s remedial investigation and feasibility study, EPA will select a final remedy to address site contamination.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

In 1964, the City of Socorro sold the site property to Eagle Picher, Inc. The company manufactured circuit boards, antennae assemblies and non-automotive lead-acid batteries at the site from 1964 until 1976. Eagle Picher later sold the property back to the city. The city operated a municipal landfill on site until 1977, when it leased the property back to Eagle Picher for light manufacturing use. The city retains site ownership.

In November 1987, chlorinated compounds were detected in a Socorro municipal drinking water supply well.

Today, the site includes a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility built by Eagle Picher, two sewage lagoons, an industrial waste pit, abandoned buildings, a closed municipal landfill and an active city drinking water supply well (the “Eagle Picher Well”).

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