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Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (USDA)

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Prince George's County

EPA ID# MD0120508940

5th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

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). 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.

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

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:

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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