Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (USDA)
Current Site Information
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)Maryland
Prince George's County
EPA ID# MD0120508940
5th Congressional District
Last Update: January 2015
Current Site Status
The Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Beltsville, Prince Georges County, Maryland is currently undergoing site screening at 59 areas to determine whether they warrant remediation under Superfund’s cleanup process. Work on six remedial investigation sites continues.
BARC in Beltsville, Prince Georges County, Maryland covers 6,500 acres. The facility is owned and operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The perimeter of BARC can generally be outlined by the following transportation routes: Interstate 95 to the west; Sellman, Odell, and Powder Mill Roads to the north; Laurel Bowie Road (Maryland State Route 197) to the east; and Interstate 95/495 and Maryland State Route 193 (Greenbelt Road) to the south. Several significant north/south transit corridors transect the property, the largest of which are U.S. Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue) and the CSX Railroad right-of-way in the west, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that cuts through the central portion of BARC. Research at BARC addresses soil, water and air conservation, human nutrition, and integration of agricultural systems as well as plant and animal science. In addition to large agricultural plots, wooded areas and wetlands, there are more than 800 buildings on the premises including research laboratories, administrative offices, shops, greenhouses, barns, and several houses.
The site is being addressed through federal and state actions by the USDA.
NPL Listing HistoryProposed Date: 05/10/93
Final Date: 05/31/94
Threats and Contaminants
USDA’s initial investigations in 1990, 1991, and 1992 revealed elevated levels of PAHs, several pesticides, PCBs, organic solvents, and a variety of heavy metals in soil, surface water, and sediments. Several former landfills and other disposal sites have been identified. Any contaminated surface water leaving the site could threaten several creeks and streams such as the Paint Branch, Little Paint Branch, Beaver Dam Creek, and Indian Creek that receive drainage from the site. These waterways all flow into the Anacostia River, which, in turn, flows into the Potomac River. Contaminants in the groundwater and surface water also threaten nearby wetlands adjacent to Beaver Dam Creek. Fisheries in the Northeast Branch as well as the Anacostia River provide a habitat for the Bald Eagle, an endangered species, and the Swamp Pink flower, which is a threatened species.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
In 1998, the EPA and USDA entered into a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) that established the framework for response actions at the facility. The FFA identified 166 areas of concern (AOCs). Based on further discussions between EPA and USDA, 59 of the original 166 areas of concern (AOCs) entered the site screening process. In addition, 4 AOCs have been added, for a total of 63. As of January 2015, 38 of the 63 AOCs have been closed out through the Site Screening Process
Removal Actions have been completed at 11 AOCs for clean-up of PCB, pesticide, or heavy metal contaminated soils:
BARC 1 – Experimental Wood Treatment Area - NTCRA (arsenic)
• Entech R1 – Structural Ruin - NTCRA (lead and PCBs)
• Entech R23 – Rose Garden - NTCRA (DDT, and Dieldrin)
• Building 421 – Transformer Storage Pad - NTCRA (DDT)
• BARC 14 – Airport Mixing Pad - NTCRA (DDT)
• BARC 36 – Airport Scrap Pile – NTCRA (DDT and dieldrin)
• BARC 37 – Waste Oil Pit NTCRA (DDT)
• BARC 31 – Building 442 Scrap Area - NTCRA (PCBs)
• BARC 32 – PCB Storage Area TCRA (PCBs)
• FDA 2 – Overgrown Clearing on Edge of Woods & Animal Pen NTCRA (lead and zinc)
• BARC 4, and BARC 19 - NTCRA for DDT, and Dieldrin Hot Spots above the risk criteria
Several other sites are under investigation and may be subject to further removal actions.
There are currently 5 sites that have moved from the Site Screening Process to the RI/FS phase:
- BARC 6, the Biodegradable Landfill : In 1993 a removal action was conducted at an area known as the Biodegradable Landfill and 70,000 tons of waste were disposed of off-site. Groundwater contamination in the area remains and is currently under investigation.
- BARC 12, Chemical Disposal Pits :A Remedial Investigation for the site was completed in 2010; however, it was decided that a pond at the facility would be considered as a separate, unrelated AOC, which required updating the RI. Additional monitoring wells have been installed to the north and west of the BARC 12 AOC to further delineate the extent of groundwater contaminant plumes, primarily VOCs. Groundwater quality data from these wells will be incorporated into a Feasibility Study.
- BARC 22, College Park Landfill: The Remedial Investigation was completed and finalized in 2008. In 2009, a 3 year Pilot Study was finalized. The pilot study evaluated vegetative landfill biocovers. The Feasibility Study was finalized the same year. Annual groundwater monitoring continues at this site. A Proposed Plan is anticipated, recommending the use of biologically active landfill cover, in 2015.
- BARC 27, Beaver Dam Road Landfill : The 2011 Record of Decision selected a “biowall” and land use controls to address VOC contamination in groundwater. The installation of the mulch biowall remedy was completed during the summer of 2013. A Performance Monitoring Plan has been developed to guide data collection activities that will be used for the 5-Year review of this remedy. A remedial action completion report will be finalized in 2015.
BARC 32, Former PCB Storage Area and DNAPL Investigation: A treatability study was initiated in 2014 to test a proprietary technology for treating VOCs in groundwater.
Semi-annual groundwater sampling continues in the vicinity of the various disposal sites on the property.
Several site-specific ecological studies have been completed. When coupled with the human-health studies completed earlier, risk management decisions have been made on approximately 40 areas of concern which will not require further study or remediation.