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Frontier Hard Chrome Buildings Demolished, Cleanup Underway
Release Date: 7/7/2003
Contact Information: Bill Dunbar
July 7, 2003
Site contaminated with chemical made famous in “Erin Brockovich”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun an innovative clean-up at the Frontier Hard Chrome site in Vancouver. This former chrome-plating site is contaminated with hexavalent chromium, the chemical made famous in the movie “Erin Brockovich”.
If not controlled, the chemical could migrate into surface or groundwater sources and threaten human health and the environment.
Recently, the EPA demolished two buildings which sat over the most contaminated “hot-spot” of the former FHC site. With the buildings out of the way, the EPA is injecting a reducing agent into the ground that will change the highly toxic hexavalent chromium into the non-toxic trivalent chromium.
The first injections are forming an underground barrier wall about 150 feet long to keep contamination from spreading.
After removing the buildings’ foundations, the EPA will mix reducing agents into newly exposed soil, in some places as deep as 30 feet. The agency expects to finish treating the remaining soil and groundwater throughout the “hot spot” by September.
“This is a new cleanup process,” says EPA Project Manager Sean Sheldrake. “This modern technology is allowing us to clean up this site in a very effective way. We’ll be monitoring the results over the long term. And when we walk away, we’ll leave behind a much safer site.”
The Frontier Hard Chrome site is about a half-mile north of the Columbia River. Chrome plating operations took place at this site between 1958 and 1982. FHC operated at the site from 1970 to 1982 and discharged wastewater with hexavalent chromium to an on-site dry well. Concerned that contaminated water could reach the Columbia River or drinking water wells, the EPA added the site to the National Priorities (Superfund) List in 1983.
When first detected, seriously contaminated groundwater extended about 1600 feet southwest from the facility. Subsequent monitoring indicates that the area of groundwater contamination has changed in size and shape over time. However, the “hot spot” under the site has shown consistently high levels of chromium.
In the 1980s the EPA evaluated ways to clean up contamination, but the agency was not able to find a cost-effective clean-up option at that time. Also, because the groundwater plume was decreasing, EPA did not move forward with groundwater cleanup. EPA and the Washington Department of Ecology removed some contaminated surface soil from the site in 1994, and continued monitoring and evaluating new cleanup technologies.
Now that this new treatment technology is available, EPA can move forward with cleanup.
Web Site: https://yosemite.epa.gov/r10/cleanup.nsf/sites/fhc