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Contamination release found at Fields Brook Superfund site

Release Date: 8/2/2005
Contact Information: Mick Hans, (312) 353-5050 Susan Pastor, (312) 353-1325

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA127

CHICAGO (Aug. 2, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that contaminated material has been found in an industrial area of Fields Brook, in Ashtabula, Ohio. Previously, this area was the site of a 1999 - 2001 Superfund cleanup.

The hazardous material resembles the black dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) removed from the brook during the cleanup, which was overseen by EPA. It was discovered recently during routine monitoring of Fields Brook near the intersection of State Road and Middle Road. The upstream portion of the stream runs through an industrial area where at least 19 separate facilities have operated since 1940. The downstream portion runs through a residential area of Ashtabula.

EPA believes that the source of the contamination may be the Detrex Corporation, which is known to have DNAPL under its facility and already has a containment and extraction system in place. Under EPA oversight, the group of responsible parties that performed the earlier cleanup has begun an investigation to determine whether the new contamination may be material that breached the containment system or was previously unidentified. Once the source is identified, additional containment steps will be taken to eliminate the pathway to the brook and clean up the hazardous material that has already entered the brook. Interceptor trenches have already been installed in the brook to capture material so that it does not move downstream out of the industrial area.

The DNAPL material has a strong odor that may be noticeable in the area. EPA does not believe there is a health threat to people who live or work near the brook. However, there are skin-contact risks if one is in very close proximity to the material. To date, the material has only been seen in the industrial portion of Fields Brook.

Fields Brook flows into the Ashtabula River. The Fields Brook Superfund site includes the stream, the floodplain and six nearby industrial areas that posed a threat to the brook. The site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983. Following a period of study and analysis, a variety of cleanup activities in the brook and at the six industrial sites were conducted during 1999 - 2001. The first required five-year review of site progress was completed in 2004.

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