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Abandoned Chemical Facilities


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.


Process-specific chemical production facilities manufacture formulate or repackage a wide range of chemicals for commercial and industrial use. These can include the formulation and synthesis of acids, bases, oxidizers, polymers, plastics, surfactants, cleaning solvents, dyes, soaps and waxes.


The raw materials are specific to the individual process and final product. The method of manufacturing/repackaging process may be similar for each individual corporation, and could be easily researched for a specific location/process.


Due to the diversity of the individual process, specific waste streams and affected environmental media are highly varied. However, chemical facilities typically handle large volumes of chemicals utilizing above and below ground bulk storage tanks, transfer equipment, process lines and piping and raw material/final product storage areas. Additionally, off-spec and waste materials may generated. Some of these materials may be found on site in surface impoundments, bulk storage tanks, waste piles and disposal pits. All of these areas may contribute to soil, building and groundwater contamination. Process-specific waste streams and case studies on the associated environmental impacts are available.


All waste 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 waste materials 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 to confirm the extent of the contamination. Once the 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 subsurface disposal pits, process lines and underground 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.

Another environmental concern is asbestos. Three forms of asbestos are typically found in buildings: (1) sprayed or trawled-on material; (2) insulation on pipes, boilers and ducts; and (3) miscellaneous forms, such as wallboard, ceiling tiles and floor tiles. Asbestos is a serious concern, especially during building demolition work.


Asbestos Analysis

Cyanide Analysis

Heavy Metals Analysis:

pH Analysis

Priority Pollutant Organics Analysis (volatiles, semivolatiles, pesticide/PCBs)

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

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