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Fact Sheet

March 2009

Third Five-Year Review to Begin, 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 started 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 only 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 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. In 1999 and 2004, five-year reviews were completed and the remedy was determined to be protective of human health and the environment.

The Five-Year Review

During the third five-year review, EPA and KDHE will inspect the site and study site information to make sure the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment. We encourage the community to tell us about site conditions or concerns.

At the end of the review, a final report will be prepared and will be available in the site information repositories. The goal is to complete the five year review and report in September, 2009.

Additional Information

Detailed site information is available at:

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
U.S. EPA Region 7
901 N. Fifth St.
Kansas City, KS 66101
Toll free: 1-800-223-0425
e-mail: hirter.fritz@epa.gov

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