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Fact Sheet

August 2009

Announcing the Third Five-Year Review Report, Pester Refinery Superfund Site, El Dorado, Butler County, Kansas


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts regular five-year reviews on certain Superfund sites, as required by the Superfund law [42 U.S.C. section 9621(c)]. EPA Region 7 and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) have completed the third five-year review of the Pester Refinery Superfund site, located north and west of the city of El Dorado in Butler County, Kansas.


The site is located on a 10-acre tract and was comprised of a burn pond in which petroleum wastes were ignited as a common practice in the refinery operations. The refinery which was adjacent to the west of the site was not part of the Superfund site. The Superfund site consists of property previously occupied by the burn pond.

The West Branch Walnut River flows along the north and east edge of the pond and farmlands are to the north and east across the river. The Coastal Refining and Marketing, Inc. office building and treatment and aeration ponds are located to the south of the site.


The refinery immediately west of the site was constructed in 1917 soon after the discovery of oil in El Dorado. The refinery and surrounding area were purchased by Fina Oil and Chemical Company (now TOTAL Petrochemicals, Inc.) in 1958. The burn pond was built by Fina around the time of the purchase. Fina disposed of petroleum waste products generated by refinery operations in the burn pond. In 1977, Pester purchased the refinery from Fina and continued refinery operations. In 1985 Pester filed for bankruptcy. Coastal Derby Refining Company (now Coastal Refining and Marketing, Inc.) purchased the refinery with the exception of the tract of land containing the burn pond. The property previously occupied by the  burn pond is still owned by Pester.

An open interceptor trench was installed in the late 1950s or early 1960s to keep seepage from the burn pond from entering the West Branch Walnut River. Although typically effective, the trench occasionally overflowed or was inundated and carried contaminants into the river. A subsurface interceptor trench was constructed in 1992 to extend east and south of the existing open trench between the pond and the West Branch Walnut River. Water extracted from the subsurface trench was discharged back to the burn pond or discharged through the water treatment system (oil/water separation and filtration) to the West Branch Walnut River under a National Permit Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

Responsible parties conducted a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) which resulted in EPA´s 1992 Record of Decision (ROD) for operable unit 1  (OU1).
The remedy required the following:

In 1998 a ROD for operable unit 2 (OU2) was issued and the remedy included:

The OU1 remedy was modified to include a three-phase separation of the onsite pond sludge into recovered refinery feedstock (RRF oil), water, and residual solids. The RRF oil (for incorporation into a refining process) and the residual solids were to be transported offsite and this was documented in a 1993 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD). A second ESD in 1998 included modifications to the bioremediation system to optimize performance and cost-effectiveness. A third ESD in 2000 modified the risk assessment to reflect the individual carcinogenic toxicities for polycyclic aerobic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

In 1993 the responsible parties entered into an agreement to conduct the design, construction, and operation of the remedy. The design was completed and the remedial action began in 1994 to continue as a long-term response action. TOTAL has continued to operate the system and has conducted ground water monitoring. A ROD Amendment in 2005 included the solidification/stabilization of soil. An inspection of the remedy was conducted by KDHE and EPA in December 2006.

During 2007 and 2008 intermittent oil seepages were observed on the access road between the solidification area and the West Branch Walnut River. Soils on the access Road were excavated by TOTAL and additional gravel was placed on the access road. The existing interceptor trench was extended in June 2009 to prevent any additional seepage of oil on the access road.

The Five-Year Review

EPA and KDHE inspected the site in March 2009 and reviewed site information to assess if the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment. A protectiveness determination will be made after the interceptor trench extension construction report is completed.

A five year review report was completed in June 2009 and includes ground water data collected over the last five years by TOTAL, a site inspection checklist and site photos taken during the site inspection.

The report is available at the site information repositories and the EPA Region 7 Website at:


Detailed site information can be found at the following site repositories during normal business hours:

Bradford Memorial Library
611 S. Washington St.
El Dorado, Kansas

EPA Records Center
901 N. Fifth St.
Kansas City, Kansas

Questions or requests for information can be submitted to:

Fritz Hirter
Community Involvement Coordinator
EPA Region 7
901 N. Fifth St.
Kansas City, KS 66101, Toll free: 800-223-0425
E-mail: hirter.fritz@epa.gov

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