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U.S. EPA REGION 5
GENESEE COUNTY
SWARTZ CREEK

Congressional District # 5

BERLIN & FARRO

EPA ID# MID000605717
Last Updated: December, 2011

Site Description

The Berlin and Farro facility was a fenced 40-acre site approximately 3.5 miles south of the town of Swartz Creek in Genesee County, Michigan. Primary land use in the area consists of agricultural row crops and small woodlands. The property is zoned for residential and agricultural use. Residences are located within approximately 500 feet of the northeast and southeast boundaries of the former site. Approximately 80 permanent residences are located with a one-half mile radius of the former Site. There are no known endangered species or critical habitats within close proximity of the Site.

Berlin and Farro Liquid Incineration, Inc., began operations at the site in April 1971. The facility was permitted to accept industrial waste for incineration, to store waste prior to incineration, and to operate an on-site 1.1-acre landfill for disposal of crushed used drums. Numerous violations of permit requirements were cited during the period of operation, until September 1975 when Berlin and Farro lost its operating permit for the incinerator. The facility also operated two unauthorized waste storage lagoons and two unlined storage lagoons, illegally buried five tanks of waste water, buried liquid wastes, operated underground storage tanks, poured liquid waste onto subsurface agricultural drains and dumped thousands of gallons of barreled wastes into two pits. These permit violations and non-permitted activities led to Berlin and Farro's incinerator and landfill permits being revoked on September 16, 1975.

From 1975 until 1978, while the permit revocations were under appeal, Berlin and Farro was permitted by the State of Michigan to transport industrial wastes for other generators, but not to transport wastes to its own site. State investigations indicated that illegal dumping of industrial wastes into the lagoons apparently continued after 1975. In 1978, Berlin and Farro's appeal of its permit revocation failed and in 1980, Berlin and Farro filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

Site Responsibility

This site has been addressed through federal, state, and potentially responsible parties' (PRPs') actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Prior to cleanup, the groundwater and soil contained volatile organic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Surface water, located in Slocum Drain and Swartz Creek, was contaminated with pesticides. PCBs and paint solvents were present in sludge. Residents could have been exposed to site-related contaminants through direct contact with contaminated surface water in Slocum Drain and Swartz Creek. In addition, onsite workers could have been exposed to contaminants if they drank or came into direct contact with contaminated groundwater.

Cleanup Progress

Under a plan submitted to the State of Michigan, limited cleanup activities were conducted by Berlin and Farro from 1978 until 1980. Berlin and Farro filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 1980 with ownership of the property subsequently being transferred to the State due to non-payment of property taxes in 1981. Ten acres of the site remained under the jurisdiction of the Genesee County Circuit Court as a result of a lawsuit filed by the State.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) on September 8, 1983. U.S. EPA identified more than 125 generators, also known as Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs), through review of site records.

Berlin and Farro conducted limited cleanup activities at the Site between 1978 and 1980. U.S. EPA, the State of Michigan, and the PRPs conducted removal actions from 1981 through 1984. Primary remediation activities through 1984 included the removal of the incinerator facility, removal of five underground tanks containing 10,000 gallons of liquid waste, removal of 4,000 drums, excavation of the agricultural drain, removal of more than one million gallons of contaminated water, removal of 15,300 cubic yards of lagoon sludge contaminated primarily with hexachlorocyclopentadiene (C-56) waste, and removal of 18,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. These materials were contaminated with, among other hazardous substances, chlorinated organic compounds, PCBs, benzene, and ethylbenzene. A total of 75,000 tons of waste and contaminated materials were removed from the Site by September 1984.

Pursuant to a 1986 Consent Decree, a group of PRPs agreed to perform a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the Site to assess whether residual chemical contamination remained on-site. The RI was completed in 1989. Samples collected and analyzed during the RI revealed several on-site chemicals of concern including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), benzene, PCBs, metals, and various compounds used in the production of pesticides, such as chlordane, aldrin, and dieldrin.

The Michigan Department of Public Health, in consultation with the Genesee County Health Department, recommended that 38 residential wells be sampled as part of the RI. Groundwater from the residential wells did not indicate concentrations of chemicals above detection limits. The RI concluded that groundwater contamination was limited to areas close to previous site facilities and residual soil contamination source areas. A total of 42 wells on and near the Site were tested, and groundwater contamination was detected only in 5 on-site wells.

The RI/FS Report and a Proposed Plan were released to the public in 1990. The proposed cleanup alternative called for on-site incineration of contaminated soils and for the extraction of contaminated groundwater with treatment via air stripping. Initial written comments received by U.S. EPA and those voiced during the public meeting indicated that most members of the public were strongly opposed to on-site incineration. A second public meeting was held to receive additional comments and discuss the possible changes to the cleanup strategy based on public comments.

In 1991, U.S. EPA released another Proposed Plan and signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the final remedy at the Site. The ROD required: (1) Excavation of on-site soil and sediment, including sediments from Slocum Drain where levels of contamination exceed ROD cleanup standards; (2) Disposal of these materials in an on-site hazardous waste disposal cell; and (3) Extraction and treatment by air stripping of groundwater with contaminant levels above the ROD cleanup standards.

U.S. EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to the PRPs in 1993. PRP representatives requested that U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) consider an alternate cleanup option for remediation at the site. In general, the alternative proposal consisted of: (1) excavation and disposal of soil and sediment which exceed cleanup standards in an off-site landfill that meets RCRA Subtitle D and Michigan solid waste landfill requirements; (2) excavation, dewatering, and off-site disposal of material from the contaminated portions of the aquifers; 3) installation of groundwater monitoring wells; (4) implementation of a groundwater monitoring program; and (5) implementation of deed restrictions to prohibit the installation of groundwater wells for drinking or domestic purposes at the Site until the appropriate groundwater cleanup standards are met and maintained. Following public review and comment on the proposed changes, the ROD was amended on October 24, 1995, to incorporate these changes.

The final Remedial Design (RD) Report and Remedial Action (RA) Work Plan provided specifications and plans for cleanup activities pursuant to the requirement of the UAO, as amended, issued by U.S. EPA for the Site.

Approximately 57,200 cubic yards of soil and 10,500 cubic yards of sediments which exceeded the site-specific cleanup criteria were excavated. Verification sampling demonstrated that remaining soils and sediments were below the site-specific cleanup criteria. Excavated areas were backfilled and regraded using uncontaminated site materials. All excavated material was transported to approved off-Site facilities for disposal. A total of 124,244 tons of contaminated soil and sediment was transported and disposed off-site.

Following dewatering and treatment of the extracted groundwater, water-bearing sand seams in the vicinity of monitoring wells where groundwater cleanup criteria were exceeded were excavated. Approximately 1,800 cubic yards of material were excavated from these areas for disposal off-site. Verification sampling confirmed that none of the analytical results exceeded the site-specific groundwater cleanup criteria as specified in the amended ROD and the Michigan Part 201 generic residential cleanup criteria, as summarized in the Groundwater Monitoring Plan (GMP) and the Final RD/RA Work Plan.

The cleanup standards established by U.S. EPA for soil and groundwater at this Site were designed to allow for unrestricted future use of the Site and to meet or exceed the requirements of a residential cleanup under State Law (Part 201, Environmental Remediation, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 1994 PA 451, as amended). Over 450 verification soil and sediment samples were analyzed to confirm that cleanup standards were achieved at the Site.

All available data indicates that the cleanup objectives of the groundwater monitoring program established in the amended ROD were met, therefore, no additional groundwater monitoring is required at the Site. Since the completed cleanup complies with the “clean closure” requirements, consistent with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, as amended, 40 CFR Section 264.11, no further activity or operation and maintenance is planned at the Site. Because no hazardous substances remain at the Site above health-based levels, future five-year reviews are not required at the Site.

As documented by the June 27, 1996, Remedial Action Report and the September 18, 1996, Superfund Site Close Out Report, confirmatory sampling verified that all soil, sediment, and groundwater cleanup standards were met at the Site and that all cleanup actions specified in the amended ROD have been implemented.

Following site closeout, the Site was deeded to Gaines Township, Genesee County, Michigan. U.S. EPA and the MDEQ deleted the Site from the NPL on June 24, 1998.

Community Involvement

In response to concerns raised by local members of the community, the State performed a site inspection on January 30, 2008. The State coordinated with the Genesee County Health Department to collect several water samples from a private water well in the area. The samples were collected and analyzed by the State's  laboratory for metals, volatile organic compounds, aromatic compounds, pesticides, and general ground water minerals. U.S. EPA reviewed the test results and concurred with the State's evaluation that all of the results are within federal drinking water standards, with the exception of arsenic. The arsenic level reported was at a level that is higher than U.S. EPA's maximum contaminant level (MCL); however, it is important to note that the recent sampling results are within the range of what is considered background for ground water in this area of the State of Michigan.

Property Reuse

The State of Michigan transferred the deed to the Site property to Gaines Township after the final cleanup was completed. U.S. EPA recognized that the Berlin and Farro Site achieved the designation of Site Wide Ready for Anticipated Use (SWRAU) on June 26, 2006. This designation reflects that all cleanup goals outlined in the Record of Decision have been achieved for site media that may affect current and reasonably anticipated future land uses, so that there are no unacceptable risks at the Site. In addition, all Institutional Controls required to ensure long-term protectiveness for the Site have been put in place.

Contacts

Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
linda kern (kern.linda@epa.gov)
(312) 886-7341

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
Don De Blasio
(312) 886-4360

Aliases

BERLIN & FARRO LIQUID INCINERATOR

 

Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.

 


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