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EPA and OxyChem To Reevaluate Lagoon Cleanup in Lower Pottsgrove

Release Date: 10/27/2005
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has reached an agreement with Occidental Chemical Corp. (OxyChem) to improve the cleanup plan for a portion of the Occidental Chemical Superfund Site in Lower Pottsgrove Township, Montgomery County, Pa. OxyChem, which has been conducting the EPA-supervised cleanup of the site, has agreed to conduct a focused feasibility study to improve the cleanup of hazardous waste storage lagoons at the former industrial site.

In accordance with the settlement agreement announced today, Oxychem, with EPA approval, has designated Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, as its primary contractor in performing the focused feasibility study under EPA supervision.

The feasibility study will focus on cleanup options for the earthen lagoons to address the health risks identified in the risk assessment that was performed in 2004 by EPA as part of its investigation of the contamination in the lagoons. The feasibility study will be used by EPA to develop an improved cleanup plan for the lagoons that is protective of human health and the environment.

The company is expected to provide EPA with a work plan for the study before the end of the year. The study is anticipated to be completed in 2006.

Under a 1994 EPA cleanup order, OxyChem was required to excavate and dispose of contaminated soil in the earthen lagoons, and conduct onsite treatment of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sludge to render the material nonhazardous and suitable for recycling. However, the pilot programs for onsite treatment of PVC sludge have been unsuccessful, and EPA concluded in 2004, on the basis of recent sampling and analysis, that vinyl chloride, trichloroethene and other industrial pollutants in the lagoon are a potential continuing source of groundwater contamination.

The 250-acre Occidental Chemical site was added to the Superfund list in October 1989, due to hazardous waste contamination generated during decades of industrial activity. The site was the location of aircraft engine manufacturing before and during World War II, tire and PVC resin manufacturing by Firestone Tire and Rubber Company (now Bridgestone/Firestone Inc.) from 1945 to 1980, and PVC resin manufacturing by OxyChem from 1980 until January 2005. EPA testing has confirmed that groundwater at the site is contaminated by volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene (TCE) and vinyl chloride from former manufacturing operations.

Under the Superfund law, landowners, waste generators and waste transporters that are responsible for the contamination of a Superfund site must either clean up the site, or reimburse EPA or other parties for cleanup activities. EPA has determined that OxyChem and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. are “potentially responsible parties” under Superfund. In 1994, EPA ordered the two companies to complete an EPA-approved cleanup plan – focusing on remediation of groundwater contamination and cleanup of earthen lagoons used to store PVC sludge and other industrial waste.

OxyChem is conducting the cleanup on behalf of both companies, and has already implemented the groundwater cleanup, which includes pumping and treating groundwater as well as long-term groundwater monitoring. OxyChem has also excavated about 200 tons of contaminated soil from a drainage swale on the southern portion of the site.

For more information about the Occidental Chemical Superfund Site, visit EPA’s website at