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EPA Begins Cleanup Work at Former Cranston Electroplating Company
Release Date: 07/23/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617-918-1013)
CRANSTON, R.I. – A contractor hired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started removing hazardous chemicals and cleaning up at a defunct electroplating company in Cranston.
Rhode Island Technical Plating (RITP) was under an EPA order issued March 29 to clean up acids, caustics, cyanides, oxidizers, waste sludges and poisons from its 50 Libera St. manufacturing facility. The company is unable to do the work because it was placed under court-ordered receivership April 9.
EPA and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management toured the site in June and determined quick removal of the chemicals at the site was necessary because of the potential hazard they posed. The plant is located in a neighborhood of mixed residential, commercial and industrial use with a pond nearby.
The building was constructed in 1971 and was used by jewelry manufacturers until 1984. Rhode Island Technical Plating operated at this plant until early 2001. The company did chrome plating of automotive and motorcycle parts, nautical hardware, industrial components and decorative fixtures.
The initial removal and clean up work began July 17 when an EPA emergency rapid response services contractor, IT Corporation Inc., began placing temporary covers over the acid vats at the site. On July 18, IT began to develop an inventory of the chemicals at the site and began making temporary repairs to the leaking roof to prevent rainwater from entering the abandoned building.
Work at the Rhode Island Technical Plating slated to begin today includes:
Separating incompatible chemicals such as cyanides and acids to prevent the chance there will be a release of hazardous chemicals into the air. A survey of contamination at the site will also be done.
Hazardous substances in vats, drums, bottles and other containers inside the building will be sampled, categorized, repackaged as necessary, and shipped off-site for appropriate re-use or disposal at an EPA-approved facility.
Vats will be emptied and decontaminated of hazardous sludges, crystals, and residuals. The contents of the vats will be bulked or placed in drums and also shipped off-site for appropriate re-use or disposal.
The floor and other building surfaces will also be decontaminated as appropriate.
Process piping, floor drains, water treatment systems, and other building features may also be cleaned out if appropriate.
If necessary, a clean up of the surface soils will be done.
EPA and DEM's inspection in April documented 10,000 - 20,000 gallons of chrome plating solutions – acid, caustic, cyanide, metals – in open vats and hundreds of drums and containers of various acids, caustics, cyanides, oxidizers, waste sludges and poisons.
Past EPA and DEM inspections in 1997 and 1998 also uncovered significant environmental threats from RITP's operations. EPA believes the company was releasing hazardous solvents directly into the air, had released toxic chromium to the soil at the plant – possibly contaminating groundwater – and was improperly handling hazardous chemicals in a way that increased the potential for fire or explosion as well as environmental contamination.
After the inspections, EPA immediately ordered RITP to come into compliance with clean air and hazardous waste laws. Before being place under a receivership, RITP had revamped its production system to remedy some of the violations. The settlement also required RITP to investigate its property for possible soil and groundwater contamination with chromium and, if detected, clean up the property. This was finalized in the March court order.
Cleanup activities will be coordinated closely with the DEM and Cranston Fire Department.