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Release Date: 9/28/1995
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

   (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has announced a final decision to cap all of the approximately 100,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste at the McColl Superfund site, Fullerton, Calif.  

     "The community's concerns were a significant factor in deciding to cap the contamination," said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA regional hazardous waste management deputy director.  "We wanted to make a decision that the community surrounding the McColl site could support and that satisfactorily addresses the environmental problems posed by the site as quickly and effectively as possible."  

     The decision calls for the McColl Site Group (MSG), the oil companies responsible for the contamination, to design and build a multilayer, impermeable cap that will provide a thick protective cover.  The cap will prevent water from getting into the waste and emissions from escaping into the atmosphere.  Underground walls will be installed to minimize movement of the waste or migration of contaminants outward.  Retaining walls may be placed on the slopes to provide stability and strength to the natural contours of the site.  A monitoring system to detect future migration of the waste to adjacent areas also will be installed.  The McColl Site Group will be required to provide long-term security and conduct routine site maintenance in perpetuity.

      U.S. EPA has ordered the McColl Site Group to begin the design of the cap.  The Agency estimates that the cleanup can be concluded in two to three years at an estimated cost of $30 million.  

     U.S. EPA's decision became final after a public comment period.  The preliminary decision was made after reviewing the results of the full-scale solidification test the Agency ordered the McColl Site Group to perform this spring.  The tests were conducted to neutralize and solidify the upper portion of the sumps to determine if they could meet the Agency's performance criteria for the cleanup.  The tests showed that most of the Agency's goals were met, but there was uncertainty about the ability to control odors and temperatures during the solidification process.  

     The 22-acre McColl Superfund site was used during the early 1940s as a waste disposal facility.  Waste sludge, a highly acidic by-product of oil refinery operations, was dumped at the site.  Over the years the waste was covered by oil drilling muds and top soils.  The 12 sumps are filled with nearly 100,000 cubic yards of highly acidic sludge and soils.  The waste periodically seeps to the surface through fissures in the covering.

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