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Electroplating

INTRODUCTION

This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the EPA Region 3 to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.

INDUSTRY, PROCESS, OR SITE DESCRIPTION

A wide variety of metal components are transported from the original manufacturing location to an electroplating facility to be coated with specific metals to improve the appearance, resistance to corrosion, or engineering performance. Metal components are cleaned, etched, electroplated and finished by dipping into a series of vats containing a combination of corrosive, metal and/or cyanide containing chemical solutions.

CHARACTERISTIC RAW MATERIALS

This industry typically uses a series of plating solutions containing strong acids, strong bases, metals and cyanide salts. Acid and bases are usually received by the facility in drums and occasionally by bulk transport (tank trucks). The metal and cyanide containing salts are usually received as bagged or containerized solids, or drummed liquids, which are dissolved or diluted into large plating vats. The following chemical compounds are/were commonly utilized in the electroplating process:

(L) - liquid (s) - solid

WASTE STREAMS AND POTENTIALLY AFFECTED ENVIRONMENTAL MEDIA

On-site waste piles, lagoons and waste pits were common treatment/storage techniques prior to the promulgation and enforcement of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA). Common waste products encountered at Superfund assessment and remediation projects include waste cyanide, heavy metals and corrosive liquids and sludges, metals and cyanide-contaminated soils, metals and cyanide-contaminated groundwater, and unused raw materials listed above. The relative toxicity of cyanide, cadmium, and chromium warrant special concern when evaluating groundwater contamination.

Additionally, contaminated buildings and the associated demolition debris may be encountered at abandoned or inactive sites. Decontamination and wipe testing of this material may be required prior to off-site landfill disposal.

SAMPLING STRATEGIES

All raw materials encountered on site should be visually identified and confirmed using immuno-assay, qualitative indicators, or wet chemistry field screening techniques. It should be noted that many of the raw materials containing corrosive and cyanide compounds may represent a significant direct contact and/or inhalation hazard to assessment personnel. Visually identified contaminated areas, waste piles and lagoons should be characterized by collecting several samples for laboratory analysis. Surface and subsurface soil sampling should be performed from the suspected contaminated areas outward to the suspected clean areas. Once the primary contaminated areas are established, grid or random sampling may be performed to confirm the suspected clean areas. The application of non-intrusive subsurface geophysics should be evaluated to detect underground burial pits, process lines and chemical storage tanks.

On-site and local wells may be sampled if groundwater is an environmental concern. Installation of monitoring wells or other groundwater sampling techniques should be evaluated if it is necessary to fill data gaps.

SUGGESTED ANALYTICAL PARAMETERS

Cyanide (total/available) Analysis

Heavy Metals Analysis:

pH Analysis

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization


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