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Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (USDA)

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Prince George's County

EPA ID# MD0120508940

5th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2013

Other Names


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.

Site Description

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). 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.

Site Responsibility

The site is being addressed through federal and state actions by the USDA.

NPL Listing History

Proposed 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.

Cleanup Progress

The EPA and USDA entered into a Federal Facilities Agreement (FFA) that established the framework for response actions at the facility. Site screening continues at the facility on 59 of the original 166 areas of concern (AOCs) that were identified through a review of historical operations.

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. Four Removal Actions have been completed for clean-up of PCB or pesticide contaminated soils. Several other sites are under investigation and may be subject to further removal actions.

There are five sites where Remedial Investigations and Feasibility Studies are being conducted. These include areas where groundwater is contaminated with organic solvents, landfills, a low-level radiation waste disposal site, and chemical disposal pits. Field work is underway or has been completed at each of these sites. USDA has recently completed a three year vegetative landfill cover pilot study at one of these sites, the College Park Landfill. A Feasibility Study has been finalized and a draft Proposed plan is under review. A final Proposed Plan for the Beaverdam Run Landfill had been completed and a public meeting was conducted in July of 2009. A Record of Decision has been finalized and signed. A reactive bio-wall has been selected to address groundwater contamination down-gradient of this site.

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.


Site Contacts

Administrative Record Locations

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Superfund |EPA Home | EPA Superfund Homepage

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