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EPA to Clean Groundwater and Dispose of Chemicals at Former Metachem Site

Release Date: 6/10/2005
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

DELAWARE CITY, Del. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will spend more than $10 million to reduce groundwater contamination and dispose of hazardous chemicals at the former Metachem Chemical Facility in Delaware City, Del. The cleanup is being conducted under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, commonly known as Superfund.

More than $6 million will be used to pay for the off-site disposal of materials from the site, and $4.2 million will be used to build a containment barrier and treatment system to control groundwater.

The hazardous materials on the site which may require off-site incineration include approximately 2,255 55-gallon drums of chlorinated benzene waste consolidated from various tanks, vessels, and sumps, and 300,000 gallons of sludge containing mixed chlorobenzene waste from the on-site waste water treatment plant. In addition, approximately 405 tons of lime and miscellaneous materials from the on-site warehouse will be transported off-site for disposal or reuse.

To contain contaminated groundwater, EPA will build a circumferential wall, similar to a giant underground bath tub. Extraction wells will withdraw water from inside the wall and send it to the treatment system. The treated water will then be discharged to the Delaware River under the conditions of a state-issued National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit as required under the federal Clean Water Act. Construction will begin in 2006.

Chlorinated benzene materials were manufactured at the site from 1966 until May 2002 when Metachem abandoned the facility and declared bankruptcy. Since that time, EPA and DNREC have conducted extensive stabilization activities at the site. More than 8.4 million pounds of benzene and chlorinated benzene products have been returned to productive use through sales to manufacturing companies. Nearly 6 million pounds of wastes have been sent off-site for disposal, and more than 72 million gallons of contaminated water have been treated.