Jump to main content.


Superfund Program Proposed Plan

Dates to Remember

June 20, 2002 to July 20, 2003
Public comment period on alternatives in Proposed Plan.

June 26, 2003; 7:00 pm
Public meeting
the Providence School
3035 Singerly Rd
Elkton, MD 21921

Galaxy/Spectron Superfund Site,
Contaminated Shallow Soils, Operable Unit 1
Elkton, Maryland
June 20, 2003


EPA Announces Cleanup Plan

You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") is issuing this Proposed Remedial Action Plan ("Proposed Plan") to present EPA's Preferred Remedial Alternative for cleaning up the contaminated shallow soils and ground water at the Galaxy/Spectron Superfund Site ("Spectron" or "Site") located near Elkton, Maryland (see Figure 1 (PDF) (1 p, 5.15MB) and Figure 2 (PDF) (1 p, 1.16MB) ). EPA is also requesting public comments on EPA's preferred alternative and the other alternatives for remediation of the contaminated soils and ground water. The Proposed Plan contains a glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar to the general public. The terms in bold print in the text are explained in the glossary in the back of the Proposed Plan.

INSIDE

The preferred alternative utilizes the existing ground water containment, collection, and treatment system but adds a protective cover over the contaminated soil with enhanced subsurface treatment of contaminants. The cover will be maintained to prevent contact with contaminated soils and ground water. Contaminated ground water that is captured in the Ground Water Containment System underneath the Little Elk Creek (also referenced herein as "the Creek") will continue to be treated in the existing water treatment plant located on site. The old industrial buildings and structures will be demolished. The Site will be re-graded and then capped with a low permeability cap (i.e., modified RCRA cap), followed by a soil cover which will then be seeded. See Figure 3 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB)for a layout of the area covered by this alternative. The liner and soil cover will be installed to provide a protective barrier between the contaminated shallow soils and people above. Subsurface treatment with an electron donor material will enhance the native bacteria's ability to degrade or consume the contaminants in the soil and shallow ground water without having to dig up the contaminants for treatment. Certain property use and activity restrictions, such as drilling prohibitions and building permit requirements, and other institutional controls will be implemented to prevent unacceptable human health exposure risks to contaminated soil and groundwater located within Operable Unit 1.

EPA often splits Superfund sites into phases or "operable units" to better manage sites and help expedite cleanup actions. EPA believes that the preferred alternative is the best alternative for addressing those parts of the Site comprising Operable Unit 1 (see Figure 3 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB)). Operable Unit 1 ("OU 1") includes the soils beneath the Spectron Plant Area, shallow ground water (ground water above the bedrock) at the Plant Area and ground water captured in the Ground Water Containment System. The Ground Water Containment System was originally installed in April 1999 as part of an EPA Emergency Removal Action. Other areas of potential contamination comprise Operable Unit 2 and are located in the bedrock. The bedrock contamination and associated ground water are still being investigated to determine the most appropriate remedy. The public will be notified when there is a Proposed Plan for Operable Unit 2 ("OU 2").

This Proposed Plan summarizes information found in the Remedial Investigation, Feasibility Study and Risk Assessment, which are documents contained in the Administrative Record, along with other information used to develop the preferred alternative. If more in-depth information is needed, these documents can be referenced directly. EPA encourages the public to review these documents in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the Site and the Superfund activities that have been conducted there. The locations of the Administrative Record for the Site and the address to send comments on this Plan are given at the end of this Proposed Plan.

After the public comment period has ended and the comments received during the comment period have been reviewed and carefully considered, EPA, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Environment ("MDE"), will select a final remedy for the shallow soil contamination. The final remedy will be described in a Record of Decision ("ROD") for Operable Unit 1. The public's comments will be incorporated into a Responsiveness Summary contained in the ROD for the Site. Based on new information and/or public comments received, the remedy selected in the ROD may be different from the preferred alternative identified here.

This Proposed Plan is being issued as part of EPA's public participation requirements under Section 117(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended ("CERCLA") and Section 300.430(f)(2) of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan ("NCP").

Site Background and History

The Galaxy/Spectron, Inc. ("Spectron") Site is approximately eight (8) acres in size and is located five (5) miles north of Elkton, Maryland, in a primarily rural area (see Figure 1 (PDF) (1 p, 5.15MB)). On October 14, 1992, the Site was proposed to the National Priorities List ("NPL"), which is a listing of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term remedial action. The Site was formally added to the NPL on May 31, 1994, making it eligible for Federal cleanup funds. The location of the Site was originally a paper mill which burned down in 1946. In 1961, Galaxy Chemicals, Inc. began a solvent recovery operation that treated used solvents and other chemicals generated by the electronics, pharmaceutical, paint, and chemical process industries by removing impurities, and then recycled the clean solvents and chemicals. Galaxy Chemicals went bankrupt in 1975 and the facility was re-opened as Solvent Distillers, Inc., with primarily the same ownership. Solvent Distillers, Inc., which changed its name to Spectron, Inc. in 1978, closed the facility in 1988 and went into bankruptcy. Sloppy operations including spills and leaks allowed contaminants to seep into the soil. Waste sludges containing solvents like trichloroethene("TCE") and perchloroethene ("PCE") were placed into an unlined open air lagoon adjacent to the Little Elk Creek. It is likely that the contaminants escaped into the Creek by flowing with the shallow ground water, or by being washed out of the lagoon during storm events. The facility had a history of environmental problems and numerous enforcement actions were taken against its operators by State and Federal regulators.

On September 30, 1996, a Preliminary Public Health Assessment Report was completed by MDE in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ("ASTDR"). The report found that in the 1960's and early 1970's area residences may have been exposed to airborne contaminants. However, the 1995 - 1996 sampling indicated that there was no current public health hazard in relation to breathing air near the Site. The report recommended a sampling program for local residential wells near the Site, and further recommended treatment of some residential wells where contamination was detected. These recommendations have been followed.

In addition to historic releases to the air and to the stream, sampling data indicates that some of the contaminants sank into the soils and cracks (or fractures) in the bedrock below the Site. A September 1982 MDE order required Spectron to remove the upper six inches of contaminated soil and to add an asphalt cover throughout the Site. This work also included the removal of "Hot Spots" such as the former lagoon. However, data from monitoring wells and soil sampling at the Site after the soil and "Hot Spot" removal have demonstrated that contamination in the shallow soils remains present.

Monitoring wells in the bedrock below the Plant Area and Little Elk Creek demonstrate that highly concentrated contamination called dense non-aqueous phase liquids ("DNAPLs") are in some fractures in the bedrock. DNAPLs are heavier than water and therefore sinks in the soil past the ground water. The DNAPLs at the Site are considered to be a principal threat material, existing in either in a residual, less mobile form bound to the soil or in a more concentrated, free flowing liquid form. The DNAPL contamination in the shallow soils at the Plant Area and in the bedrock fractures are of concern because the DNAPLs are a continuous source for ground water contamination, and people obtain their drinking water from ground water through private wells surrounding the Site. The nearest private wells are within several hundred feet of the Site and obtain their water supply mostly from the bedrock aquifer and springs. Continued sampling at nearby residential wells have not exceeded maximum contaminant levels ("MCLs"), which are drinking water standards; however, a few residences have been found to have low levels of site-related contaminants. As a precautionary measure, these residences have been provided with carbon filter systems to remove these trace contaminants.

The Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study ("RI/FS") is ongoing for the fractured bedrock aquifer, which will be the focus of OU 2. That phase of the cleanup will define the nature and extent of contamination in the bedrock aquifer and include an evaluation for cleaning it up.

When Spectron went bankrupt in 1988, it ceased operations, leaving approximately 500,000 gallons of flammable liquids in holding tanks at the Site. EPA, with assistance from MDE, disposed of these wastes. EPA and MDE negotiated an Administrative Order on Consent ("AOC") with the Spectron potentially responsible party group ("PRP Group") to remove and dispose of drums and to clean out flammable sludges from the tanks. Another AOC was signed in 1991 requiring the PRP Group to control seeps of contaminated ground water which were leaking out of the shallow soil along the west bank of Little Elk Creek and posed a potential public health and ecological threat. The Site has approximately 1,000 PRPs, including many small business owners. (1)

In April 1998, EPA, with the assistance of MDE and after soliciting input from the community, decided that a ground water containment, collection, and treatment system (collectively referred to herein as "Ground Water Containment System") would be installed to catch and treat these contaminated seeps. In the fall of 1998, the PRP Group began constructing the Ground Water Containment System which required: the excavation of the creek bed; then the installation of a French drain system; followed by a plastic liner between the Site contamination and Little Elk Creek. The plastic liner or "creek liner" provides a barrier between the Creek and the contaminated seeps and ground water. By the spring of 1999, the work in the creek bed was complete.

The Creek was restored by planting native trees and plants along the banks and in the creek bed itself. The french drains located under the creek liner collect contaminated ground water which is then pumped to an on-site ground water treatment plant. The water is treated before being discharged to Little Elk Creek. By the spring of 2000, all the construction work for the Ground Water Containment System was completed, and the plant began treating captured contaminated ground water. The treatment plant uses biological/powder activated carbon ("PAC") treatment tanks. This treatment process allows bacteria in two 18,000 gallon tanks to degrade or consume the contaminants in the ground water. In September 2000, the final component of the water treatment system, an air stripper, was turned on. The air stripper is a polishing process for the treated water and removes any residual organic compounds not removed by the biological powder activated carbon treatment. Under EPA and MDE oversight, the design and construction of these facilities was conducted and financed by the PRP Group.

On May 20, 1996, an Administrative Order on Consent was signed by EPA and the PRP Group requiring the PRP Group to continue investigations at the Site and to develop a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study. These reports provide the basis for the determinations found in this Proposed Plan.

Site Characteristics

The Site is located in the Piedmont Physiographic Province in Cecil County, Maryland within the Little Elk Creek valley. (See Figure 1 (PDF) (1 p, 5.15MB)). The main portion of the Site (the "Plant Area") consists of seven acres on the Southern bank of Little Elk Creek; another portion of the Site is an approximately one-acre parcel of the Site (the "Office Area") located on the Northern bank of Little Elk Creek. (See F (PDF) (1 p, 1.16MB)). The Plant Area was the primary solvent recycling area and included processing buildings, power plant building, storage tanks, drum storage areas, and a waste lagoon disposal area ("Lagoon Area"). Many of these existing structures have been removed or are structurally unsound and pose safety problems. A small intermittent stream exists that runs along Ed Moore Road before crossing through a portion of the Plant Area and before discharging to Little Elk Creek above the Dam, which is located upstream of the Ground Water Containment System. (See Figure 2 (PDF) (1 p, 1.16MB)). The one-acre portion of the Site across Little Elk Creek, on which a small brick building currently exists, once housed Spectron's main office and a staging area for tanker trucks and drums. While some contamination has been found on the Office Area portion of the Site, additional information will be required to develop an adequate risk based evaluation. Therefore, the Office Area portion of the Site will be evaluated under Operable Unit 2.

Observations from drilling and data from monitoring wells from the Plant Area have been compiled in the Remedial Investigation report. This information was used to develop an understanding of the nature of the Site soils and ground water. In addition, this information provides an insight to the nature and concentration of the Plant Area contamination. The Plant Area overlies about 4 to 16 feet thick of soils and fill (also known as overburden), including structural foundations and old drainage piping from the paper mill and recycling plant, which lies directly on top of bedrock. The soils consist of a mixture of sands, silt and clay with what appears to be a thin, low-permeability silt layer which is in the middle across most of the Site. This layer is absent near the Creek. Contamination was observed above, within, and below this low-permeability layer.

Site data indicates that in some areas, the highest concentrations of contamination are above this silt layer. This contamination is referred to as "residual" since it is not free flowing; it is held by the soil particles like a sponge. However, this residual contamination is still able to slowly dissolve and release contamination into the ground water. The ground water flow in the overburden aquifer above the bedrock is toward Little Elk Creek. As a result of the solvent recycling operation at this facility, DNAPLs have been released to the subsurface. These highly concentrated contaminant liquids do not dissolve readily in water, are heavier than water and therefore move as a result of gravity and sink in and through the soil and ground water until they run into an unpassable clay layer or settle into the fractures of the bedrock. DNAPLs behave as a continuing source of contamination as up gradient clean ground water flows through the Site, slowly dissolving contaminants into the ground water that eventually discharges to the Ground Water Containment System below Little Elk Creek. Prior to the installation of the Ground Water Containment System, DNAPLs were detected in the creek sediment. Currently, DNAPLs are being found in bedrock monitoring wells below the Plant Area.

During the Remedial Investigation, collection of subsurface samples in the Plant Area was difficult because of the presence of structural foundations. These foundations are suspected to cause or to have caused preferential migration pathways for contamination.

Ground water flow in the overburden aquifer is in the direction of Little Elk Creek. Ground water flow within the bedrock aquifer also appears to flow toward the Little Elk Creek. The flow pathway and extent of DNAPL and ground water contamination in the bedrock is continuing to be investigated as part of the next phase or OU 2.

This Proposed Plan addresses only the contamination in the shallow soil and ground water above the bedrock. EPA expects to propose a remedy for the contamination in the bedrock aquifer in a subsequent Proposed Plan.

Nature and Extent of Contamination

More than two hundred surface soil, sediment, and shallow ground water samples were collected from the area associated with OU 1. Total volatile organic compounds ("VOCs") are present in Site soils at concentrations ranging from below detection limits to 238 mg/kg (parts per million). The highest levels were identified above the low-permeability silt layer. The following findings were noted:

Scope and Role

The actions proposed in this Proposed Plan constitute the final actions for the Plant Area soils, associated shallow ground water above the bedrock, and the Ground Water Containment System, which make up the main contaminant source areas. EPA considers these actions as Operable Unit 1. The problems at the Spectron Site have been and continue to be complex. To date, a number of actions have already taken place. The actions proposed by EPA in this document will add to the success attained by the previous actions in addressing the environmental problems at the Site. The actions proposed at this time are not the final actions that will be necessary. The Remedial Investigation for the contamination in the bedrock and the Office Area are ongoing.

Past cleanup actions included an initial removal action which was conducted by EPA in August 1989, which resulted in the removal of over 500,000 gallons of flammable liquid waste located in drums and tanks. This was followed immediately by another removal action whereby a group of PRPs, under an agreement with EPA, cleaned out flammable sludges from many of these same tanks. The third action was initiated in 1991. This action eventually led to the capture and treatment of contaminated ground water which was seeping from the Site and into the Creek. Construction of that system was completed on April 1999. Throughout much of this time, neighboring residential wells were sampled on a regular basis.

EPA has been focusing on long-term cleanup measures since the Site was stabilized. This has included a Remedial Investigation conducted by a group of PRPs with EPA and MDE oversight, the results of which were discussed in the previous section. At this time, EPA believes it is appropriate to move forward with cleanup actions for Operable Unit 1. Below is a more detailed description of Operable Unit 1:

OU 1: Includes actions that are necessary to: 1) prevent ground water contamination from entering Little Elk Creek by using the existing Ground Water Containment System; 2) address principal threat material (see Figure 4 (PDF) (1 p, 1.15MB) ) in the Plant Area shallow soil (soil located from the surface to the top of the bedrock); 3) address overburden ground water contamination (ground water within soils and fill overlying the bedrock aquifer); 4) restrict property use within the OU 1 area, depicted in Figure 3 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB), to protect people from unacceptable exposure to soil contamination and to prevent activities that would interfere with the remedy; and 5) restrict installation of wells within the OU 1 area, depicted in Figure 3 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB), to protect people from unacceptable exposure to ground water contamination.

Once the Remedial Investigation for the bedrock aquifer has been completed, EPA will propose any necessary response actions for OU 2 at that time. Bedrock ground water and any other remaining items (such as addressing the Office Area and any ecological risks in Little Elk Creek downstream of the Plant Area (2) ) constitutes OU 2. Below is a more detailed description of what OU 2 is expected to include:

OU 2: Likely to include actions, if necessary, to address contamination in the bedrock and Office Area, and to address any ecological risks that may be found in Little Elk Creek downstream of the containment system that exists today. Operable Unit 2 will also include any action necessary to provide for the long-term protection of nearby residents consuming ground water from private residential wells.

EPA characterizes waste on-site as either principal threat waste or low level threat waste. The concept of principal threat waste and low level threat waste, as developed by EPA in the NCP, is applied on a site-specific basis when characterizing source material. "Source material" is defined as material that includes or contains hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants that act as a reservoir for migration of contamination to ground water, to surface water, to air, or that acts as a source for direct exposure (EPA Principal Threat Guidance OSWER 9380.3-06FS, Nov 91). Source materials are considered to be principal threat wastes when they contain high concentrations of toxic compounds (e.g., several orders of magnitude above levels that allow for unrestricted use and unlimited exposure) or are highly mobile and generally cannot be reliably contained.

From the results of the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study ("RI/FS") for Operable Unit 1, EPA considers the residual DNAPL in the shallow soil (within the shallow ground water) to be principal threat waste since it contains significant concentrations of highly toxic compounds that act as a reservoir for migration of contamination and would pose a significant risk to human health should exposure occur. (3)

Section 300.430(a)(1)(iii) of the NCP states that "EPA expects to use treatment to address the principal threats posed by a site, wherever practicable," that "EPA expects to use engineering controls, such as containment, for waste that poses a relatively low, long-term threat or where treatment is impracticable," and that "EPA expects to use a combination of methods, as appropriate, to achieve protection of human health and the environment." It also states that "EPA expects to use institutional controls...to supplement engineering controls as appropriate...," and that institutional controls may be used "where necessary, as a component of the completed remedy." (4) However, the NCP also states that institutional controls "shall not substitute for active response measures...as the sole remedy unless such active measures are determined not to be practicable..." After giving careful consideration to the NCP, to available technologies, and to the Site characteristics, EPA has determined that treatment is practicable for the principal threat waste (the residual DNAPL) at Operable Unit 1 of the Site.

Summary of Site Risks

WHAT IS RISK AND HOW IS IT CALCULATED?

A Superfund human health risk assessment estimates the "baseline risk." This is an estimate of the likelihood of health problems occurring if no cleanup action were taken at a site. A four-step process is used to estimate the baseline risk at a Superfund site:

In Step 1, EPA looks at the concentrations of contaminants found at a site as well as past scientific studies on the effects these contaminants have had on people (or animals, when human studies are unavailable). Comparisons between site-specific concentrations and concentrations reported in past studies enable EPA to determine which contaminants are most likely to pose the greatest threat to human health.

In Step 2, EPA considers the different ways that people might be exposed to the contaminants identified in Step 1, the concentrations that people might be exposed to, and the potential frequency and duration of exposure. Using this information, EPA calculates the "reasonable maximum exposure" ("RME") scenario, which portrays the highest level of human exposure that could reasonably be expected to occur.

In Step 3, EPA uses the information from Step 2 combined with information on the toxicity of each chemical to assess potential health risks. EPA considers two types of risk: cancer risk and non-cancer risk. The likelihood of any kind of cancer resulting from exposure to contaminants is generally expressed as an upper bound probability; for example, a "1 in 10,000 chance." In other words, for every 10,000 people exposed, one extra cancer may occur as a result of exposure to site contaminants. An extra cancer case means that one more person could get cancer than would normally be expected to from all other causes. For non-cancer health effects, EPA calculates a "hazard index." The key concept here is that a "threshold level" (measured usually as a hazard index of less than 1) exists below which non-cancer health effects are no longer predicted. Above the threshold level, health effects would not necessarily occur, but can no longer be ruled out.

In Step 4, EPA determines whether site risks are great enough to potentially cause health problems for people at or near the Superfund site. The results of the three previous steps are combined, evaluated and summarized. EPA adds up the potential risks from the individual contaminants and exposure pathways and calculates a total site risk.

A Baseline Risk Assessment was conducted in order to determine the current and potential future effects of contaminants in soil and ground water on human health in the absence of any cleanup actions at the Site. (5)

The current and potential future land use plays a key role when EPA determines the exposure scenarios to be evaluated in the Baseline Risk Assessment "(BLRA"). Although historically used for industrial purposes, the area defined by OU 1 (see Figure 3 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB)) is currently zoned residential. This is consistent with how the immediately surrounding properties were used during the operation of the facility and continue to be used today. Therefore, EPA evaluated the potential risks associated with a home being built on the area defined by OU 1. However, since it is unlikely that this area could be used for residential purposes because of the contamination and the presence of the ground water treatment plant, EPA also evaluated the use of the area for commercial/industrial purposes and as a park.

Specifically, the Baseline Risk Assessment considered the exposure of workers, trespassers and visitors, and potential future residents to on-site soil and shallow ground water.

For utility workers, trespassers, and visitors, the estimated cancer risks were within or below Superfund's acceptable range of 1 in 1,000,000 to 1 in 10,000. This was also true of construction worker risks from soil. Industrial worker risks from soil were just at the upper end of the acceptable risk range: 1 in 10,000, mainly due to TCE and 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane.

For every receptor that could be exposed to ground water (industrial and construction workers and residents), cancer risks were above the Superfund risk range. The ground water cancer risks ranged from 3 in 1,000 (for construction workers) to almost 1 in 1 (for potential future residents). These risks were driven by a large suite of VOCs, along with a few semi-volatiles and pesticides, and possibly arsenic.

Potential future residential use of soil would also have a cancer risk above the Superfund range: 4 in 10,000. This risk is driven by arsenic, which could be due to background conditions, although this has not been conclusively determined.

Effects other than cancer were evaluated using the Hazard Index, which is estimated by dividing the dose that is estimated from the site by a dose that is expected to be free from adverse effects. The Hazard Index should generally be 1 or less to rule out potential non-cancer effects. Above 1, effects will not necessarily occur, but can no longer be ruled out.

The Hazard Indexes ("HIs") for all non-residential receptors exposed to soil were 1 or less. For potential future residents, the soil HI would be 6 for adults and 19 for children.

For all potential ground water users, the HIs would exceed 1, ranging from approximately 430 (construction workers) to approximately 4,700 (child residents). These risks are driven by a variety of organic compounds and metals. The metals may be attributable to background; however, it is not been conclusively shown that they are unrelated to and unaffected by the solvent contamination. Even without the metals, VOCs would yield HIs above 1.

Lead is evaluated not by a cancer risk or a non-cancer Hazard Index, but by a model that predicts potential blood-lead levels. Lead in soil at this Site would be associated with potentially unacceptable blood-lead levels in children if the soil were used residentially.

It is EPA's current judgment that the preferred alternative identified in the Proposed Plan, or one of the other active measures considered in the Proposed Plan, is necessary to protect public health or welfare or the environment from actual or threatened releases of hazardous substances into the environment.

Remedial Action Objectives

The remedial action objectives ("RAO") for Operable Unit 1 are as follows:

  1. Ensure continued operation and maintenance of the previously constructed Ground Water Containment System (6) so that Federal Ambient Water Quality Criteria (AWQC) for consumption of fish and drinking water are not exceeded within Little Elk Creek immediately downstream of the groundwater containment system. This is necessary to address potential risks to human health and ecological risks that may occur if the operation were discontinued and contamination were to escape the system into the Little Elk Creek. Continued operation and maintenance includes ensuring that the ground water treatment plant has adequate capacity. The maintenance of the liner is also necessary to prevent the re-establishment of the seeps that existed prior to the installation of the liner;
  2. Prevent current or future direct contact with contaminated soils that would result in unacceptable levels of risk to human health. Unacceptable levels of risk include those that exceed the excess lifetime cancer risk of 1.0 X 10-4, and Hazard Indexes of greater than 1 for current and potential future direct contact with soil. During the remedial design phase, field sampling will be used to determine the area that exceeds a cancer risk of 1.0 X 10-4 or Hazard Index of 1;
  3. Prevent current or future use (ingestion, direct contact, or vapor inhalation) of contaminated ground water that would result in unacceptable levels of risk to human health. Unacceptable levels of risk include those that exceed the excess lifetime cancer risk of 1.0 X 10-4, and Hazard Indexes of greater than 1 for current and potential future direct contact with ground water;
  4. Treat principal threat waste, such as residual DNAPL, to achieve at least 70% contaminant mass removal in the shallow soil to reduce the mass of contaminants that act as a reservoir for the migration of contaminants into the ground water. Based on the results encountered at other Superfund sites with similar soils and contaminants, EPA has determined that a goal of 70% mass removal provides significant environmental benefit to ground water and, in the event of an erosion event, surface water sediment. Source reduction of this magnitude can be achieved with available technologies. An estimate of the total mass will be performed during the remedial design phase.

Summary of Alternatives

During the Feasibility Study, various alternatives to cleanup the shallow soils and to prevent the migration of contaminated ground water at the Plant Area to Little Elk Creek were evaluated in order to determine which cleanup method would be best. This evaluation was based on the information gathered during the Remedial Investigation (e.g., monitoring well data, site geology, etc.). EPA's preferred alternative is Alternative 3 - "In-Situ Treatment with Engineered Cover System and Institutional Controls." (See below).

Each alternative, except the "no action" alternative, contains some common elements that were considered in the evaluation process. The common elements include:

  1. The continued use, maintenance and life cycle overhauls of the existing Ground Water Containment System, described above and referenced in Footnote 6. This Ground Water Containment System has successfully captured and treated contaminated ground water from the shallow soils and deep bedrock since it was constructed in April 1999. The mass of contaminants in the shallow soil ground water would very slowly decline due to the natural flushing of the ground water as it travels to the containment system. However, due to Site conditions including persistent DNAPL that has settled in some of the cracks of the bedrock, it is anticipated that the containment system will be operated long into the future. The annual O & M cost for the Ground Water Containment System is estimated at $360,000. This amount is reflected in the O & M Cost of each alternative;
  2. Evaluation of the existing Ground Water Containment System, during the remedial design, to determine whether capacity is adequate. Furthermore, the EPA has recently recognized that a contaminant, 1,4-dioxane, can be present where there are high levels of TCA. Given that this Site operated as a solvent recycler and there are high concentrations of TCA present in ground water, 1,4-dioxane is likely present in the ground water as well. If present, it is possible that this contaminant is not being treated by the existing treatment technologies in place at the Site. Consequently, the remedial design will include evaluating whether the Ground Water Containment System influent and effluent contains 1,4-dioxane, and will evaluate and implement any modification to the existing treatment to address it if concentrations pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, based on NCP criteria;
  3. The demolition, to grade, of all structures on the Plant Area (see Figure 2 (PDF) (1 p, 1.16MB)) except the ground water treatment system building, and the regrading of concrete debris along with the stock-piled site soils (7) that were originally removed from Little Elk Creek prior to the installation of the Ground Water Containment System. Demolition is necessary: (1) because the structures are deteriorating and unsound, and (2) to enable the installation of a continuous protective cover across the Plant Area.
  4. Certain property use and activity restrictions to prevent activities that would adversely affect the protective cover or other components of the remedy, or which would result in unacceptable exposure risks related to contaminated soil. These restrictions will be implemented through institutional controls within the OU 1 area, to prohibit the construction of buildings or other activities that would compromise the integrity of the protective cover.
  5. Prohibition of well drilling within the OU 1 area, to prevent unacceptable exposure to contaminated ground water via ingestion, vapor inhalation or dermal contact. This will be implemented through institutional controls.
  6. Sampling of the debris pile northwest of the Dam, and possible relocation of the debris pile to the area that will be covered or capped.

Alternatives

The following is a summary of the most significant cleanup alternatives that were considered in the Feasibility Study. Other alternatives were considered, but are not described here. Further information can be obtained from the administrative record.

Alternative 1: No Action

Under this alternative, no remedial measures would be implemented at the Site to prevent exposure to the soil and ground water contamination. In addition, the operation of the Ground Water Treatment System would discontinue. (8) The "no action" alternative is included because the NCP requires that a "no action" alternative be developed as a baseline for evaluating other remedial alternatives.

Alternative 2: Soil Cover with Phytoremediation

In addition to the common elements described above, this alternative involves the installation of a 24" soil cover over the Plant Area (see Figure 5 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB)). Poplar trees would be planted throughout the area.

The primary objective of the soil cover is to cover the impacted soil with a clean soil layer to eliminate the potential for direct contact with the contaminated soil and to reduce the amount of rain water that infiltrates into the contaminated soil. The poplar trees would help remove ground water contamination through a process called phytoremediation. Phytoremediation is a cleanup technology that utilizes plants or trees to control water flow and/or to treat soil and ground water. Poplar trees were considered for this Site based on their ability to withdraw large amounts of water relative to other trees and their ability to "treat" certain ground water contaminants including some of those found at the Site. Treatment mechanisms associated with phytoremediation using poplar trees include biodegradation of contaminants in the rhizosphere (root zone), adsorption on the root structure, enzyme degradation within the tree, and volatilization through the leaves via transpiration. By withdrawing water, the trees would reduce the water load on the treatment plant.

Routine maintenance would be required to maintain the soil cover integrity. Maintenance activities could include lawn mowing, lawn care to maintain the vegetative cover, and repairing potential erosional features and/or subsidence.

Alternative 3: In-Situ Treatment with Engineered Cover System and Institutional Controls

In addition to the common elements described above, this alternative involves the installation of an engineered cover system over an approximately 3-acre area of the Plant Area (see Figure 6 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB)). The cover system would be a modified RCRA cap, which includes (from bottom to top): A soil sub-base, a geosynthetic composite clay liner, a plastic geomembrane, a geosynthetic drainage layer, 18" of soil, and 6" of topsoil. This cover system would minimize the potential for direct contact with contaminated soil and practically eliminate the infiltration of rain water into the contaminated soil. In addition, to minimize vapor build-up under the low-permeability cover, a passive venting system would be installed. The emissions from the passive venting system would be evaluated during the remedial design phase and, if necessary, steps would be taken to control emissions to ensure the protection of human health and the environment.

Maintenance activities would take place for the cover similar to what were described in Alternative 2.

Subsurface treatment would be implemented to enhance the native bacteria's ability to biodegrade or consume the ground water contaminants. Most of the ground water contamination at this Site consists of chlorinated volatile organic compounds which are difficult to biodegrade. By adding another food source for the bacteria that naturally live in the ground water, the bacteria's ability to biodegrade the chlorinated contaminants greatly increases. This would be accomplished by injecting an electron donor or lactic acid substrate material into the ground water. As an analogy, the electron donor material acts like a vitamin supplement to assist the bacteria in breaking down the chlorinated compounds. Treatment would continue until the mass of contaminants in the shallow ground water (including the DNAPL contamination) is decreased by at least 70%, thus reducing the mass of contaminants that act as a reservoir (i.e., the principal threat waste) for continued ground water contamination. This reduction would also significantly reduce potential risks associated with a failure of the containment system and erosion of contaminated soils downstream. The remedial design will estimate the current mass of contaminant via soil and ground water field sampling. A monitoring plan will be developed and implemented to measure mass removal rate to determine when treatment can be stopped. At this time, EPA estimates that it will take 15 years to achieve a 70% reduction.

The type of electron donor material to be used will be determined during the remedial design following treatability studies. An electron donor material could be as simple as molasses or as complex as a commercial product with patented time release capabilities. EPA anticipates that the electron donor material would be injected below the water table at the Site along the existing retaining wall located at the southern portion of the Plant Area. Injection points would be concentrated just upgradient of areas identified as principal threat areas (see Figure 4 (PDF) (1 p, 1.15MB) and Figure 6 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB). Adding the treatment material in this fashion would be advantageous since the natural ground water flow would distribute the treatment material across the Plant Area. Any excess treatment material and the breakdown products of the biodegradation would eventually end up in the Ground Water Treatment System, where they would undergo further biodegradation before the water is discharged to Little Elk Creek. The method of application would be determined during the remedial design.

Alternative 4: Excavation and Off-Site Disposal with a Soil Cover

In addition to the common elements described above and the soil cover described in Alternative 2, this alternative consists of excavating contaminated soil, fill, and building foundations from the Plant Area, including the Lagoon Area (the areas where the majority of contamination would most likely have entered the soil). The total area is approximately 2 acres in size (see Figure 7 (PDF) (1 p, 1.09MB). Only soil in the vadose zone or above the water table would be excavated. The estimated volume of contaminated material requiring excavation is 17,800 cubic yards. The material would be shipped off-site in covered dump trucks for treatment and disposal. Steps would be taken to minimize the air release of contaminants to ensure the safety of the nearby residents. Prior to construction of the soil cover, the excavated areas would be filled in using currently stock-piled soil, debris from the demolition of the buildings and clean soil from off-site as necessary.

By excavating the most contaminated soil, any potential for direct contact with contaminated soil is greatly diminished.

Alternative 5: Soil Vapor Extraction with Engineered Cover System

In addition to the common elements described above and the engineered cover system described in Alternative 3, this alternative consists of using a soil vapor extraction ("SVE") system to address soil contamination above the water table. The extraction system would be installed in approximately the same areas of soil excavation described in Alternative 4 (see Figure 8 (PDF) (1 p, 1.07MB). The SVE system would consist of wells attached to a vacuum pump that would extract air from between soil particles. The extracted air would carry contaminants with it. As air is flushed through the soil, the soil would gradually be cleaned up. The air that is extracted during this process is put through carbon filters to remove the contaminants before discharging to the atmosphere.

In order to increase the amount of soil that could be treated in this way, ground water extraction wells would be installed in the Plant Area to lower the water table so air can be flushed through a greater volume of soil. (9) Additional ground water treatment capacity, through expansion of the existing treatment plant or the addition of some temporary treatment equipment, might be necessary to handle the extra volume of ground water.

The remedial design will estimate the current mass of contaminants via soil and ground water field sampling. A monitoring plan will be developed and implemented to measure mass removal to determine when the SVE system can be stopped. EPA estimates that the SVE system would operate for 10 years to remove 70% of the mass of the contaminants remaining at the Site.

Evaluation of Alternatives

In this section, EPA evaluated the alternatives in detail to determine which alternative EPA believes would be the most effective in achieving the goals of CERCLA, and in particular, achieving the remedial action objectives for OU 1. EPA uses nine criteria to evaluate cleanup alternatives in order to select a remedy. Below is a description of each of the nine criteria set forth in the NCP, 40 C.F.R. § 300.430(e)(9). These nine criteria can be categorized into three groups: threshold criteria, primary balancing criteria, and modifying criteria.

Threshold Criteria:
  1. Overall Protection of Human Health and the Environment addresses whether a remedy provides adequate protection to human health and the environment and describes how risks are eliminated, reduced, or controlled through treatment, engineering controls, or institutional controls.
  2. Compliance with Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements ("ARARs") addresses whether a remedy will meet all of the applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements of environmental statutes, regulations, and/or whether there are grounds for invoking a waiver.
Primary Balancing Criteria:
  1. Long-term Effectiveness refers to the ability of a remedy to maintain reliable protection of human health and the environment over time once cleanup goals are achieved.
  2. Reduction of Toxicity, Mobility, or Volume through Treatment addresses the degree to which alternatives will reduce the toxicity, mobility, or volume of the contaminants causing site risks through treatment.
  3. Short-term Effectiveness addresses the period of time needed to achieve protection and any adverse impacts on human health and environment that may be posed during the construction and implementation period until cleanup goals are achieved.
  4. Implementability addresses the technical and administrative feasibility of a remedy, including the availability of materials and services needed to implement a particular option.
  5. Cost includes estimated capital and operation and maintenance costs, usually combined as the total net present worth cost.
Modifying Criteria:
  1. State Acceptance indicates whether, based on its review of supporting documents and the Proposed Plan, the State concurs with, opposes, or has no comment on the preferred alternative.
  2. Community Acceptance will be assessed in the Record of Decision following a review of public comments received on the Proposed Plan and supporting documents included in the Administrative Record.

Overall Protection of Human Health and the Environment

CERCLA requires that the selected remedial action be protective of human health and the environment. An alternative is protective if current and potential future risks associated with each exposure pathway at a Site are reduced to acceptable levels.

The "no action" alternative (Alternative 1) does not meet this threshold criteria for several reasons. First, without the continued operation of the Ground Water Containment System, the discharge of contamination into Little Elk Creek would resume at the Plant Area. This would cause the water in the Little Elk Creek to exceed Federal AWQC for consumption of fish and drinking water. Second, the contamination seeping into the Creek could also impact residential wells located near the Creek. Finally, if the former Plant Area land was used in accordance with its residential zoning designation, unacceptable risks to children and adults would remain from the potential for direct contact with the soil and from exposure to the ground water either while drinking, showering or both. (10) Because the "no action" alternative does not meet this threshold criteria, it will not be considered further in this analysis of alternatives.

Each of the other four alternatives (Alternatives 2, 3, 4, and 5) meet this criteria. The on-going operation of the existing Ground Water Containment System, a common element of all four, would continue to capture contamination migrating in ground water from the shallow soils before it enters Little Elk Creek allowing the Creek to meet Federal AWQC for consumption of fish and drinking water and protecting residents from potential impacts to residential wells near the Creek. EPA has evaluated the small level of contaminants coming from the air stripper at the treatment plant and has found that they do not pose an unacceptable risk to human health. Each of the remaining alternatives also contains a provision for a protective cover to prevent direct contact with contaminated soil. In addition, institutional controls would be implemented to prevent activities that would adversely affect the cover system or other component of the remedy, or which would result in unacceptable exposure risks related to contaminated soil. Such institutional controls include land use restrictions within the OU 1 area to prohibit construction or other activities that could compromise the integrity of the cover system.

Alternative 3 and 5 offer the highest degree of overall protection of human health and the environment because the engineered cap provides an additional barrier to minimize direct contact with contaminated soil and will assist the Groundwater Containment System in preventing unacceptable levels of contamination in the Creek.

Compliance with Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements ("ARARs")

Any cleanup alternative selected by EPA must comply with all applicable or relevant and appropriate federal and state environmental requirements. Applicable requirements are those substantive environmental standards, requirements, criteria, or limitations promulgated under federal or state law that are legally applicable to the Remedial Action to be implemented at the site. Relevant and appropriate requirements, while not being directly applicable, address problems or situations sufficiently similar to those encountered at the site that their use is well-suited to the particular site. In a Record of Decision, EPA may waive an ARAR under certain conditions. EPA is not waiving any ARARs for Operable Unit 1 of this Site.

Alternatives 2, 3, 4, and 5 meet this threshold criteria. Some of the major ARARs for the Site include:

  1. State and Federal water discharge and air emissions standards and requirements - In each alternative, the Ground Water Treatment System would meet (as it has been doing) requirements for how clean the water must be before it can be discharged to Little Elk Creek. The treatment system would also meet (as it has been doing) air emissions requirements for the air stripper that is the last operation in the treatment system. The soil vapor extraction ("SVE") system in Alternative 5 would meet air emissions requirements through the use of a treatment system (such as the use of activated charcoal) to treat the contaminated air prior to emission.
  2. Maryland SWQS - The State of Maryland has set various chemical-specific water quality standards, based on the intended use of the particular water body. The State's designated use of this part of Little Elk Creek is "Use I" for fish consumption and general recreation. These SWQS are considered "applicable" for Little Elk Creek. However, due to the close proximity of residential wells along Little Elk Creek, the Federal Ambient Water Quality Criteria ("AWQC") for consumption of fish and drinking water will be considered "relevant and appropriate" for Little Elk Creek. Note that since the start of operation of the Ground Water Containment System, the Creek contaminant levels have dropped significantly. Just beyond the end of the containment system (see Figure 2 (PDF) (1 p, 1.16MB), the level of contamination is just above the Federal AWQC for the consumption of fish and drinking water. The slight exceedance could be for several reasons. One, contaminated ground water could be seeping around or underneath the end of the containment system due to the build up of water pressure in the containment system. This could be caused by the need for greater pumping and/or treatment capacity (several times just during the initial start-up phases, the liner floated because water could not be pumped out and/or treated fast enough). As part of each alternative, the capacity of the treatment system would be evaluated, and expansion or upgrades, if necessary, would be carried out. Expansion/upgrades could include such things as increased pump capacity, increased treatment capacity through the addition of another bioreactor tank, use of the existing emergency treatment capacity if the increased need is seasonal. Another possible upgrade could be the addition of shallow pumping wells on the plant side of the Creek near the downstream end of the containment system, if it is determined that shallow ground water is migrating beyond the end of the containment system. It is possible that deeper bedrock ground water could be discharging into the Creek beyond the containment system. This issue will be addressed by the on-going bedrock ground water studies being conducted as part of Operable Unit 2.
  3. National Historic Preservation Act - This Act may apply to the Spectron Site due to the 100-year long industrial history of the paper mill which existed prior to the construction of the Galaxy plant. In addition, the Spectron Site is located within the Little Elk Creek Historic District which is listed on the National Register. Based on the Site's history and location in a Historic District, a Determination of Eligibility (DOE) has been requested by Maryland Division of Historical and Cultural Programs. If cultural resources are found within the OU 1 area that are on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and such cultural resources would be adversely affected by the cleanup, then mitigation activities may be required.
  4. State/Federal Floodplain requirements – Since most, if not all, of the Site is within the 100-year floodplain, an evaluation of the impacts to the floodplain would be conducted in each alternative as part of the soil cover or cap design. Any cap or soil cover would be designed in such a way as to prevent unacceptable impacts, such as impacts to the homes across the Creek from the Plant Area.
  5. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Hazardous Waste Disposal regulations - Hazardous waste in the form of DNAPL may be recovered from the ground water treatment plant or monitoring wells and then temporarily stored on-site until it can be properly disposed of off-site. Therefore, in regard to the handling and disposal of hazardous waste on-site these regulations will be considered applicable.
  6. Ground water regulations - Maximum Contaminant Levels ("MCLs") and non-zero Maximum Contaminant Level Goals ("MCLGs") - The ground water at the Site is a Class IIA aquifer (i.e., the aquifer system is a current source of drinking water). Therefore, the NCP states that EPA's goal would be to return the ground water to its beneficial use by considering MCLs or non-zero MCLGs as ARARs. Section 300.430(f)(5)(iii)(A) of the NCP states that performance (for example, area of attainment of ARARs) shall be measured at appropriate locations in the ground water, surface water, etc. The preamble to the NCP explains that for ground water, remediation levels should generally be attained throughout the contaminant plume or at and beyond the edge of the waste management area when waste is left in place (55 FR 8753, March 8, 1990). Figure 6 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB) shows the boundary of the "waste management area" (the area to be contained in each of the alternatives) located within the area defined by OU 1. Since there are no MCL or non-zero MCLG exceedances in Operable Unit 1 beyond the waste management area (note that the only area where Operable Unit 1 extends beyond the waste management area is just above the Dam on the plant side) at this time and each alternative would prevent such from occurring, each alternative would meet these ARARs. Some additional monitoring wells may be necessary to monitor the success of the Ground Water Containment System.

Long-Term Effectiveness and Permanence

The evaluation of alternatives under this criterion considers the ability of an alternative to maintain protection of human health and the environment over time. The evaluation takes into account the residual risk remaining from untreated waste at the conclusion of remedial activities, as well as the adequacy and reliability of containment systems and institutional controls.

Alternatives 2, 3, 4, and 5 provide a similar degree of long-term effectiveness since, for each alternative, the ground water containment, collection, and treatment system will continue to be operated and maintained. The system also provides for natural flushing of contaminants from the soil in the form of rainwater infiltration through a soil cover, as in Alternatives 2 and 4, and ground water cross flow as in Alternatives 2, 3, 4 and 5. In fact, it is essential to the long-term effectiveness of Alternatives 2, 3, 4, and 5 that the containment system be operated and maintained to prevent ground water contamination from seeping into Little Elk Creek. Based on how the system performed during Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd, the system can withstand an extreme storm event. However, maintenance activities for both the liner and the treatment plant must continue to ensure the that the system operates as planned into the future. Due to the presence of DNAPL at the Site and the stringent Federal AWQC for the consumption of fish and drinking water discussed above, EPA does not anticipate a time when the system can be turned off.

Alternatives 3, 4, and 5 offer the highest degree of long-term protection since they provide significant contaminant reduction over Alternative 2. Alternative 2 provides only minimal treatment through phytoremediation and natural flushing of contaminants into the treatment system. Under Alternative 4, contaminated soil will be excavated only down to the water table which will miss residual DNAPL at the low-permeability layer just below the water table. Alternatives 3 and 5 also offer a low-permeability engineered cover system which will provide a barrier between the surface and the occasional high water table. The low-permeability cover would also controls chemical vapors that might rise to the surface. In addition, the cover system in Alternative 3 and 5 would minimize clean rainwater infiltration, thereby helping to ensure that the treatment plant maintains capacity over the long-term.

EPA believes that Alternative 3 offers the greatest degree of long-term effectiveness since the electron donor injection treatment will remove more contaminants than any of the other alternatives. Alternative 2 relies only on natural flushing from rainwater infiltration and ground water cross flow to the existing Ground Water Containment System. Alternative 4, excavation of the contaminated soils down to the water table provides some short-term protection from direct contact threats, however, the contamination left behind could migrate back to the surface with a rising water table. Alternative 4's excavation work will not reach contamination that will be treated by Alternative 3 and 5's mass reduction methods. The SVE system in Alternative 5 would not be effective due to numerous subsurface building foundations and old drainage piping from both the paper mill and the recycling plant. The foundations and the piping would limit the effectiveness of the SVE air flows by providing "short-cuts" around contaminated soil.

Reduction in Toxicity, Mobility, or Volume Through Treatment

This evaluation criterion addresses the statutory preference for selecting remedial actions that employ treatment technologies that permanently and significantly reduce the toxicity, mobility, or volume of the hazardous substances as their principal element.

Alternatives 2, 3, 4, and 5 all utilize the existing natural ground water flushing that washes the contaminants from the shallow soil into the Ground Water Containment System for treatment. The technology used at the treatment plant (biodegradation with an air stripping finishing step) destroys most of the contaminants and leaves a non-hazardous sludge that must be disposed of. However, the natural flushing is not an effective method by itself to properly treat principal threat waste which exists in the shallow soil as residual DNAPL.

Alternative 2 includes phytoremediation that would degrade some contaminants taken-up by the trees or degraded near the roots. However, the trees would also transfer a small amount of contaminants to the atmosphere with no treatment.

Alternative 3 includes in-situ treatment through the injection of an electron donor material to enhance biodegradation within the soil formation. This alternative would achieve a much greater degree of contaminant degradation than would occur with the naturally occurring ground water cross flow flushing. Significant reductions in the mass of contaminants (at least 70%) would be attained by this alternative. This alternative would also significantly reduce the potential mobility of waste should the containment system fail.

Alternative 4 includes off-site treatment to destroy the contaminants in the excavated soil. However, since the alternative only provides for excavation of contaminated soil above the water table, it would not provide for treatment of principal threat wastes that would be treated by Alternatives 3 or 5.

Alternative 5 includes soil vapor extraction which would transfer contamination from soil and some ground water to an air stream where it would be treated. This type of treatment would allow some escape of contaminants to the atmosphere. In addition, there would be treatment residuals such as spent carbon which would need regeneration, or combustion products if some type of oxidation technology were used. Due to the presence of numerous building foundations, this technology would not be able to treat nearly the volume of contamination that Alternative 3 would.

Short-Term Effectiveness

This evaluation criterion addresses the effects of the alternatives during the construction and implementation phase until remedial action objectives are met. It considers risk to the community and on-site workers and available mitigation measures, as well as the time frame for the attainment of the response objectives.

Since the Ground Water Containment System has already been constructed, the adverse effects of each alternative have been minimized other than for Alternative 4, which involves excavation and off-site disposal. Alternative 4 has the greatest potential to cause air releases of contaminants since it involves digging, loading, and transporting of soil. The excavation work would last for approximately 6 months and could be accomplished within an enclosure to minimize potential air releases. In addition, there would be much more truck traffic through the local community during the construction period. There is also the risk that these trucks could spill contaminated soil in an accident during transportation.

For Alternatives 2, 3, 4, and 5, construction of the soil cover or engineered cap would involve the delivery of a significant amount of soil, which creates risks due to traffic. Impacts would be minimized by avoiding the narrow steep hill on Providence Road, and through the use of flag persons and a zero-tolerance policy on speeding by trucks. These measures were successfully used during the Ground Water Containment System construction. The use of erosion control measures in each of the alternatives would minimize the potential for any release of exposed contaminated soil to Little Elk Creek during construction.

Alternatives 3 and 5 would not disturb soil below the surface, thus greatly minimizing the chance for air releases of contaminants. However, there is a slight chance for an air release of dust and contamination when the stock-piled soil is graded (one of the common elements), but this will be monitored and controlled. Dust would also have to be controlled during building demolition.

Alternative 5 utilizes a vacuum extraction method that brings the contaminants to the surface in a vapor form for treatment. While the system in Alterative 5 will be designed to minimize the chance of leaks or escaping vapors, there may still be an accidental release. The soil vapor extraction treatment process is estimated to remain on-site for five to ten years.

Implementability

The evaluation of alternatives under this criterion considers the technical and administrative feasibility of implementing an alternative and the availability of services and materials required during implementation.

Each of the alternatives is implementable and the services and materials required for each alternative are readily available. However, some would be more difficult to implement than others.

The foundations from the former paper mill and the solvent recycling plant present obstacles for each alternative. The more an alternative requires subsurface work, the more the foundations cause implementability problems for that alternative. Planting of trees (Alternative 2), installation of injection points for the subsurface treatment (Alternative 3), excavation of soil (Alternative 4), and installation of SVE wells (Alternative 5) are all made more difficult because of the foundations. However, the foundations present the fewest problems for Alternative 3 because Alternative 3 involves the least amount (by a wide margin) of subsurface disturbance. Also, the location of the injection points (or other delivery system) could easily be adjusted to minimize interferences by foundations.

Alternative 4, which includes soil excavation, would be the most difficult to implement since it may require such preventative measures as a negative pressure tent to assure that no vapors would escape while the excavation was taking place.

Each of the alternatives involves work near a small intermittent stream, which runs parallel to Ed Moore Road before crossing the Site near the Dam. Some environmental restoration work may be required at this stream at the completion of work.

Each of the alternatives requires construction within a floodplain, which presents several difficulties. First, steps must be taken during construction to make sure that, for example, soil is not washed downstream if an extreme storm event occurs during construction. Second, due to the flood plain regulations, the cap or cover design would have to minimize and/or mitigate the effects to the flood plain caused by raising the elevation of the Plant Area. Such steps could include gradual grading along the creek bank.

Cost

The Alternative Cost Summary Table (See Table 1 below) summarizes the capital, annual operation and maintenance ("O&M"), and total present worth costs for each alternative. The total present worth is based on an O&M time period of 30 years for the engineered cover system and the Ground Water Containment System. The soil vapor extraction system includes an O&M period of 10 years of SVE operation. A discount rate of 5% was used on the present worth calculation. For an additional cost estimate breakdown, see the Administrative Record.

Alternative Cost Summary - Table 1
Remedial Alternative Description Capital Cost Annual O & M Cost Total O & M Present Worth (5%, 30 Yrs) Total Present Worth (5%, 30 Yrs)
1 No Action $0 $0 $0 $0
2 Phytoremediation with Soil Cover $2,119,581 $445,000* $7,031,000 $9,150,581
3 In-Situ Treatment with Engineered Cover $1,984,706 $452,666* $7,152,123 $9,136,829
4 Excavation and Off-Site Disposal and a Soil Cover $8,649,829 $375,000* $5,925,000 $14,574,829
5 Soil Vapor Extraction with Engineered Cover $3,784,648 (1-10yr) $395,000*
(1-30yr) $590,000*
$6,241,000
$4,513,500
$14,539,148

* O & M costs include $360K for Ground Water Containment System operation

Several points stand out when evaluating the costs. First, the on-going operation of the ground water treatment plant ranges from 40 -70% of the cost of the alternatives. Second, Alternative 3 offers subsurface treatment of principal threat waste, but at a relatively low cost compared to SVE in Alternative 5. Third, Alternative 3, while at relatively the same cost as Alternative 2, provides effective subsurface treatment with the added protection of a low-permeability engineered cover.

State Acceptance

The Maryland Department of the Environment ("MDE") has reviewed and commented on this Proposed Plan. MDE has expressed that principal threat waste should either be treated, removed or covered with a RCRA modified cap, described above in Alternative 3. The State believes that a RCRA modified cap also provides an additional barrier to prevent direct contact of the soil by anyone visiting the Site. MDE has also stated that it is important to fully evaluate the adequacy of the capacity of the ground water treatment system and the reliability of the existing containment system. This evaluation can be accomplished with a combination of ground water elevation data and infiltration modeling. The lack of calibrated modeling information further advances the use of a low-permeability cover that would minimize rainwater infiltration into the Ground Water Containment System. In regard to Alternative 2, which uses phytoremediation, MDE expressed concerns about the ability of the poplar trees: 1) to effectively treat the site contamination especially with the amount of subsurface contamination present; and, 2) to consistently reduce the water load to the ground water treatment plant since the trees only actively transpire for about half the year. Thus, Alternative 2 was not preferable to MDE. MDE's acceptance of the preferred alternative will be fully evaluated after the public comment period and will be described in the Record of Decision.

Community Acceptance

Community acceptance of the preferred alternative will be evaluated after the public comment period ends and will be described in the Record of Decision.

Summary of the Preferred Alternative

EPA's preferred alternative for the Spectron Site is Alternative 3 - Engineered Cover with In-Situ Treatment and Institutional Controls. EPA's preferred alternative includes:

As with each of the alternatives (other than the "no action" alternative), EPA's preferred alternative meets the threshold criteria of overall protection to human health and the environment and compliance with ARARs. Alternative 3 would provide permanent and substantial risk reduction through the treatment of source materials which constitute principal threats and would prevent direct contact threat with contaminated soils and ground water. The subsurface treatment of contaminants in ground water under Alternative 3 would result in significant mass reduction of contaminants from the Site. In addition, Alternative 3 offers the following advantages compared to the other alternatives for OU 1:

  1. Alternative 3 includes a less permeable cover than Alternatives 1, 2 and 4, which have soil covers. The engineered cover system in Alternative 3 will practically eliminate the infiltration of rain water, thus reducing impacts on the capacity of the treatment plant and contributing to the attainment of the Federal AWQC for the consumption of fish and drinking water within Little Elk Creek. The Ground Water Containment System's capacity is a concern of the State of Maryland; and therefore, a low permeable RCRA modified cap is favored by Maryland;
  2. Alternative 3 provides for much more effective treatment of contaminants to reduce the mobility, toxicity and volume of the principal threat waste (the residual DNAPL below the ground water table) compared to Alternative 2 (at about the same overall cost) or Alternative 4 (at one third less the cost);
  3. Alternative 3 is substantially easier to implement than Alternative 5 (at one third less the cost of Alternative 5), and treats the waste without bringing it to the surface where there could be releases that impact the community; and,
  4. Alternative 3 would have significantly less impact to the community during installation as compared to Alternative 4, which uses soil excavation and trucks to transport the contaminated soil off-site.

Overall, based on the information currently available, EPA believes Alternative 3 provides the best balance of tradeoffs among the other alternatives. EPA's preferred alternative would satisfy the statutory requirements of CERCLA §121(b) by being protective of human health and the environment; complying with ARARs; being cost-effective; utilizing permanent solutions and alternative treatment technologies to the maximum extent practicable; and satisfying the preference for treatment as a principal element. EPA's preferred alternative could be modified or changed in response to public comment or new information.

Community Participation

This Proposed Plan is being distributed to solicit public comment on the appropriate cleanup action for the Site. EPA relies on public input so that the remedy selected for each Superfund Site addresses the concerns of the local community. EPA is providing a 30-day public comment period beginning on June 20, 2003 and ending on July 20, 2003, to encourage public participation in the selection process. EPA will conduct a public meeting during the comment period in order to present the Proposed Plan and supporting information, answer questions, and accept both oral and written comments from the public. The public meeting will be held on June 26, 2003 at the Providence School, 3035 Singerly Rd Elkton, MD at 7:00 p.m.

EPA will summarize and respond to comments received at the public meeting and written comments post-marked by July 20, 2003 in the Responsiveness Summary section of the Record of Decision, which will document EPA's final selection of a clean-up remedy. To obtain additional information relating to this Proposed Plan, please contact either of the following EPA representatives:

Carrie Deitzel (3HS43)
Community Involvement Facilitator
U.S. EPA - Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-814-5525

Robert J. Sanchez (3HS23)
Remedial Project Manager
U.S. EPA - Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215-814-3451

The detailed Administrative Record can be examined at the following locations:

Cecil County Library
301 Newark Avenue
Elkton, Maryland

U.S. EPA - Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-814-3157

The Administrative Record File can also be accessed remotely via the internet by going to the following web site address: http://www.epa.gov/arweb/

Glossary

Administrative Record
EPA's official compilation of documents, data, reports, and other information that is considered important to the status, and decisions made, relative to a Superfund Site. The record is placed in the information repository to allow public access to the material.
Administrative Order on Consent ("AOC")
A legal agreement between EPA and potentially responsible parties ("PRPs") whereby PRPs agree to perform or pay for a work at a Superfund site.
Area of attainment
The area over which ground water cleanup levels must be met. This area generally encompasses the area outside the boundary of any waste or contaminated soil managed in place and out to the boundary of the ground water contaminant plume.
Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirements ("ARARs")
The federal and state requirements or criteria that are determined to be legally applicable or relevant for the Site cleanup work.
Aquifer
A layer of rock or soil that can supply usable quantities of ground water to wells and springs. Aquifers can be a source of drinking water and provide water for other uses as well.
Baseline Risk Assessment
The baseline risk assessment is an essential component of the Remedial Investigation Report. This portion of the RI evaluates the carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks presented by the contaminants at the Site. Risk is calculated both for current uses and potential future uses of the property by a defined population (i.e. on and offsite residents, trespassers, etc).
Carcinogen
An agent which causes or contributes to the production of cancer.
C.F.R.
The Code of Federal Regulations. For example, the citation 40 C.F.R. 260 means Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 260.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
A federal law passed in 1980 and modified in 1986 by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA). The Act created a Trust Fund, known as Superfund, to investigate and clean up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
A legal agreement between EPA and potentially responsible parties (PRPs) which is entered by, and enforceable by, a court.
de minimis Settlement
Potentially Responsible Parties which have contributed relatively small quantity of waste to the Site contamination may pay an up-front settlement to be released via agreement with EPA from Future Costs Related to the Site cleanup.
Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPLs)
Liquids that are heavier than water and do not dissolve very much into water, such as the chlorinated solvents perchloroethylene ("PCE"), trichloroethylene ("TCE") and 1,1-dichloroethylene ("DCE").
Determination of Eligibility
Official form use to recommend and justify a determination of eligibility for a given property to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Ecological Receptors
Plant and animal life that may be exposed to hazardous substances.
Electron donor
An electron donor is a compound that gives up or donates an electron during microorganism's cellular respiration, resulting in the release of energy. The microorganism through its cellular machinery collects the energy for its use. The final result is the electron is donated to an electron acceptor (e.g., trichloroethene, perchloroethene) which is reduced or biodegraded by this electron transfer.
ex situ
Removed from the original place. For example, to dig up soils for treating above ground to remove contamination and then put it back.
Feasibility Study (FS)
A report that identifies and evaluates alternatives for addressing the contamination that presents unacceptable risks at a Superfund site.
Geomembrane/Geosynthetic
These sheet materials are either manmade (e.g., plastic) or manmade composites (e.g., clays sandwiched in fabric) and are used in the earth ("geo") or soils for filtration, drainage, protection, separation, reinforcement, sealing and erosion control.
Ground Water
The water beneath the earth's surface that flows through the soil and rock openings and often serves as a source of drinking water.
Hazard Index (HI)
A numeric representation of non-cancer risk. A HI exceeding one (1.0) is generally considered an unacceptable non-cancer risk. A Hazard Index for a pathway or site is often obtained by adding the Hazard Quotients of individual chemicals.
Hazard Quotient ("HQ")
a numeric representation of non-carcinogenic risk, or toxic equivalency. A HQ exceeding one (1) is considered an unacceptable non-carcinogenic risk.
in situ
At Superfund sites generally refers to treatment of contaminated soil in place rather than removing the soil first.
Institutional Controls
Non-engineered instruments such as administrative and/or legal controls that minimize the potential for human exposure to contamination by limiting land or resource use.
Information Repository
A location where documents and data (e.g., administrative record) related to the Superfund project are placed by EPA to allow the public access to the material.
Leachate
A contaminated liquid that results when water trickles through waste materials and collects components of those wastes. Leaching may cause hazardous substances to enter soil, surface water or ground water.
Lithologic Unit
A rock or soil formation.
Low Permeability Cap
A protective cover (e.g., HDPE "plastic" liner) that is a barrier to water/vapor flow pass it.
Maximum Contaminant Levels ("MCLs")
Enforceable standards for public drinking water supplies under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Theses standards apply to specific contaminants which EPA has determined have an adverse effect on human health above certain levels.
Maximum Contaminant Level Goals ("MCLGs")
Non-enforceable health-based goals for drinking water that are established at levels at which no known or anticipated adverse human health effects occur.
mg/kg
Parts Per Million ("ppm")
National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan ("NCP")
The federal regulations found at 40 C.F.R. Part 300 that provides the organizational structure and procedures for preparing for and responding to discharges of oil and releases of hazardous substances, pollutants and contaminants under the Superfund program.
National Priorities List ("NPL")
EPA's list of the nation's top priority hazardous waste sites that are eligible to receive federal money for response under CERCLA.
National Register
The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation.
Operable Unit ("OU")
The work done at Superfund sites may be divided into smaller manageable phases called operable units.
Organic Compound
A carbon-based material.
Pathways
Routes which contaminants may follow as they move by gravity or ground water flow. In addition, an exposure pathway is the route a contaminant takes in reaching a potential receptor, such as a person, animal or plant.
Phytoremediation
An clean-up technology that utilizes the natural properties of plants in engineered systems to remediate hazardous waste sites.
Potentially Responsible Parties ("PRPs")
An individual or company (such as a facility owner or operator, or a transporter or generator of hazardous substances) who may be legally responsible for the cleanup of hazardous substances at a Superfund site.
ppb
Parts per Billion or ug/kg. Five parts per billion is a fractional representation of 5 parts in 1 billion parts. For solids, ppb is a fraction based on weight, for example 5 pounds of a contaminant in a billion pounds (500,000 tons) of soil. For liquids ppb is based on volume, for example 5 tablespoons of a contaminant in a billion tablespoons (3,906,250 gallons) of water. A ppb is a much smaller quantity than a ppm.
ppm
Parts per Million or mg/kg. Five ppm is a fractional representation of 5 parts in 1 million parts.
Principal Threat
Principal threat wastes are those source materials considered to be highly toxic or highly mobile that generally cannot be reliably contained or would present a significant risk to human health or the environment should exposure occur. They include liquids and other highly mobile materials (e.g., solvents) or materials having high concentrations of toxic compounds.
Record of Decision ("ROD")
A public document that describes the remedial actions selected for a Superfund Site, why certain remedial actions were chosen as opposed to others, and how much they will cost. It summarizes the results of the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study reports and the comments received during the comment period for the Proposed Plan.
Remedial Action (RA)
The actual construction or implementation phase of a Superfund Clean-up following a Remedial Design (RD).
Remedial Design (RD)
Once a determination is made as to what cleanup method(s) will be used (e.g., in-situ treatment and containment, etc) to cleanup a site, the next phase is the remedial design where construction details and technical specifications will be determined to assure proper application of the cleanup method.
Remedial Investigation (RI)
A study which identifies the nature and extent of contamination at a Superfund site and forms the basis for the evaluation of environmental and human health risks posed by the site.
Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study ("RI/FS")
A report composed of two scientific studies, the RI and the FS. The RI is the study to determine the nature and extent of contaminants present at a Site and the problems caused by their release. The FS is conducted to develop and evaluate options for the cleanup of a Site.
Removal Action (RA)
Action taken to stop an imminent and substantial danger or threat to human health or the environment.
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
A federal law that established a regulatory system to track hazardous waste from the time of generation to disposal including requirements for treating, transporting, storing and disposing of hazardous waste.
Reference Dose ("RfD")
RfDs are estimates of threshold: exposures less than the Rfd are not expected to cause adverse effects even if exposures continue for a lifetime in the most sensitive populations.
Risk Assessment (RA)
A human health and ecological evaluation process which provides a framework for determining the potential health hazards from contamination at a site.
Sediment
Soils, sand and minerals washed from land into water.
Seeps
Areas where ground water discharges along the banks of Little Elk Creek and run down the bank into the Creek.
Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE)
This clean-up technology removes volatile organic compounds from the soil "in situ" or "in-place" by vacuuming in air below the soil surface with wells. Sometimes clean air is pumped in to force contaminated vapors into the vacuum system. The vacuumed vapors can be sent through a carbon treatment tank to remove contaminants then discharged to the air.
Solvent
A substance, usually a liquid, capable of dissolving another substance.
Superfund
The common name used for CERCLA.
TBC
"To Be Considered" - If not legally Applicable or Relevant and Appropriate Requirement (ARAR), it is nevertheless useful information to be considered in developing remedial alternatives.
ug/kg
Part per Billion or PPB
Vapor Intrusion
The seepage of chemical vapors from the soil or ground water into the indoor air of buildings.
Vadose Zone
The soil above the water table.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
An organic compound that readily evaporates (volatilizes) under atmospheric conditions.
Volatilization
The transition of a chemical from a liquid state to a gaseous state.
Water table
The point below the surface of the soil where free standing water exists. This water is referred to as ground water.

Footnotes:

  1. A de minimis settlement with approximately 500 parties who sent small amounts of hazardous material to the Site became final in March 2003. The de minimis settlement requires smaller waste contributors to help pay cleanup costs in advance, and in exchange releases them from future financial obligations at the Site. [ back ]
  2. Potential impacts to environmental receptors (e.g., fish, wildlife, etc.) could occur if bedrock ground water is discharging into Little Elk Creek beyond the current containment system. Potential environmental risks in the area of Operable Unit 1 were addressed by the containment system. [ back ]
  3. Without the Little Elk Creek containment system, continued ground water migration to surface water and to air would occur due to the presence of residual DNAPL. [ back ]
  4. The area within OU 1 (see Figure 3 (PDF) (1 p, 1.20MB)) currently is zoned residential. However, the contamination below the Plant Area is so pervasive that there are no technologies available today that could reasonably be expected to return this Area to such a condition as to allow residential use such as a home to be built. In order to return the Site soils to a condition that would allow a home to be built, practically all of the Plant Area would have to be excavated and shipped off-site for incineration. This alternative was judged to be so costly and so disruptive to the community as to not have been worthy of a detailed discussion in this Proposed Plan. Even if this drastic step was taken, bedrock ground water, which contains DNAPL and thus cannot be reliably cleaned up, would re-contaminate much of the shallow soil. Therefore, a combination of (1) treatment to address principal threat waste and to minimize potential problems due to a failure of any containment system, (2) engineering controls to prevent migration, and (3) institutional controls to prevent activities that would adversely affect the OU 1 remedial action, or which would result in unacceptable exposure risks to human health, are necessary. [ back ]
  5. Note that in areas addressed in Operable Unit 1, there are no risks to ecological receptors because the Little Elk Creek containment system is complete. However, the Little Elk Creek containment system must be maintained to prevent potential risks to ecological receptors in Little Elk Creek. [ back ]
  6. Key components of the Ground Water Containment System are in the Spectron Removal Action Construction Certification Report, dated January 24, 2000. [ back ]
  7. Prior to grading the soils, sampling will take place to determine if any safety precautions are necessary due to possible air releases. [ back ]
  8. The operation could continue under the existing Removal Consent Order. However as part of EPA's general policy, EPA has always intended to incorporate the operation and maintenance of the containment system into the remedial actions to be implemented at the Site. [ back ]
  9. Another way to enhance an SVE system is to blow air into the water table (called air sparging) to strip contaminants from the ground water into the air which can then be carried to the vacuum wells. Use of this enhancement could be evaluated in the remedial design. [ back ]
  10. Note that the Baseline Risk Assessment, and the summary above in this Proposed Plan, contain other risks that would remain if no action is taken at this Site which are not mentioned here. [ back ]

Attachment Spectron ARARs
Contaminated Shallow Soils, Operable Unit 1
Proposed Plan June 2003

ARAR or TBC Legal Citation Classification Summary of Requirement Further Specification and/or Details Regarding ARARs in the Context of this Project
Clean Water Act: Federal Ambient Water Quality Criteria for the Protection of Aquatic Life 33 U.S.C. § 1314 Relevant and Appropriate These are non-enforceable guidelines established pursuant to Section 304 of the Clean Water Act that set the concentrations of pollutants which are considered adequate to protect human health based on water and fish ingestion and to protect aquatic life. Federal ambient water quality criteria may be relevant and appropriate to CERCLA cleanups based on the uses of a water body. The designated uses for Little Elk Creek and the wetlands at the Site include protection of aquatic life and wildlife, water contact recreation and fishing ("Use I"). Maryland's SWQS for this use are considered "applicable." However, due to the close proximity of residential wells along Little Elk Creek, the Federal Ambient Water Quality Criteria (AWQC) for consumption of fish and drinking water will be considered "relevant and appropriate" for Little Elk Creek.
Maryland - Regulations of Water Supply, Sewage Disposal, and Solid Waste; Well Construction   Applicable    
Definitions COMAR 26.04.04.02    
Construction Standards COMAR 26.04.04.07 Contains specific standards for construction and maintenance of monitoring wells. Substantive standards are applicable to monitoring wells. The regulation is also applicable to injection type wells which may be used in Alternative 3 to deliver treatment material.
Abandonment Standards COMAR 26.04.04.11 Contains specific standards for well abandonment.  
Sanitary Landfills-General COMAR 26.04.07.04 C(5) Relevant and Appropriate Establishes limitations of the types of material that can be used as clean-fill. The construction debris created from the demolition of the existing structures will be left on Site and placed under the engineered cap.
Final Cover Material and Grading/Drainage COMAR 26.04.07.10
COMAR 26.04.07.19 E(5),(6)
Relevant and Appropriate Contains specific standards for cap cover material and grading/drainage design. Substantive standards are applicable to construction of a engineered low permeability protective cover over shallow site soils.
Closure COMAR 26.04.07.21 B, D, E Relevant and Appropriate Contains specific standards for cap design. Substantive standards are applicable to construction of a engineered low permeability protective cover over shallow site soils.
Post-Closure Monitoring and Maintenance COMAR 26.04.07.22 A, B, C Relevant and Appropriate Contains specific standards for monitoring and maintenance of cap. Substantive standards are applicable to post-closure monitoring and maintenance of cap.
Maryland - Board of Well Drillers: General Regulations   Applicable   Applies to all well drilling during OU1 activities.
Definitions COMAR 26.05.01.01    
Prohibitions COMAR 26.05.01.02 Prohibits well drilling by any person without a license, unless an exception in subsection B applies  
Maryland - Waterworks and Systems Operators     Requires certification of wastewater treatment operators by the State Board of Waterworks and Waste Systems Operators. Applies to the ongoing operation of the ground watertreatment plant.
Definitions COMAR 26.06.01.01  
Classification of Facilities COMAR 26.06.01.03  
Certification COMAR 26.06.01.05 Requires certification of individuals practicing as operators or superintendents of a works
Types of Certificates and Certification Requirements COMAR 26.06.01.06  
Examination for Certification COMAR 26.06.01.10  
Maryland - Water Pollution: Water Quality   Applicable These are criteria to maintain surface water quality. Little Elk Creek is a surface water of the State of Maryland and, pursuant to COMAR 26.08.02.07F(5), it is designated for Use I . Therefore, all criteria applicable to a discharge to a Use I surface water must be met by any point source discharges from the project.
Designated Uses (stream classification) COMAR 26.08.02.02 Defines designated uses. Use I: Water Contact Recreation, Protection of Aquatic Life and Wildlife and Fishing.
Surface Water Quality Criteria COMAR 26.08.02.03 Provide qualitative criteria for discharges to surface waters. The ground water treatment plant discharge and any point source discharge from the construction zone shall meet the surface water quality criteria for fresh water streams and rivers and the general water quality criteria.
Toxic Substance Water Quality Criteria for Surface Waters COMAR 26.08.02.03-1.B Establishes boundaries for fresh water, estuarine and salt water boundaries. Little Elk Creek is within a fresh water boundary.
Numerical Criteria for Toxic Substances in Surface Waters COMAR 26.08.02.03-2 A & G Provides numerical criteria and describes where the criteria apply. Specific criteria for listed toxic substances must be met for any point source discharge.
Water Quality Criteria Specific to Designated Uses COMAR 26.08.02.03-3 A Requires that water designated for certain uses meet certain criteria. Surface waters designated for "Use I" must meet specified biological criteria (fecal coliform), dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, turbidity, and chemical-specific criteria.

Discharge from groundwater treatment plant and any point source discharge from the construction zone must meet these criteria.
Surface Water Mixing Zones COMAR 26.08.02.05 Describes how mixing zones can be used in calculating discharge concentrations. The allowable mass rate and concentration of the treated ground water and of any water discharged from any point source at the construction zone will take the mixing zone requirements allowable under the regulation into account.
Surface Water Use Designation COMAR 26.08.02.07COMAR 26.08.02.07 Requires that the surface water be protected according to its designated use and that any stream segment not listed in COMAR 26.08.02.08 is designated Use I. Little Elk Creek is designated Use I. Any discharge concentrations and mass loadings shall protect Little Elk Creek for Use I designated uses.
Maryland - Obstructing Passage of Fish Prohibited. Maryland Code (statute) - Title 4 of Natural Resources Article, § 4-501 Applicable Provides that an obstruction may not be placed at the mouth of any creek or across any stream so as to impound any fish and prevent its free passage to and from the water or its free access up and down the stream. The continued maintenance and operation of the Stream Containment System shall comply with this requirement.
Maryland - Water Pollution; Discharge Limitations   Applicable    
Effluent Limitations COMAR 26.08.03.01 Describes which discharges are permitted and which are not, and sets standards for allowable discharges. The substantive standards of these requirements shall be met by the discharge from the ground water treatment plant and any point source discharges from the construction zone.
Control of the Discharge of Toxic Substances to Surface Waters COMAR 26.08.03.07 D and E Describes when discharges must be monitored and when the State may grant a temporary modification from one or more effluent limitations based on water quality criteria for toxic substances. The substantive standards of this requirement shall be met, but no permit will be obtained. Any discharges from the ground water treatment plant will be monitored for biotoxicity unless EPA determines at a future date that this is not necessary to protect the environment.
Maryland - Water Pollution: Discharge Permit Limits COMAR 26.08.04.02-1 A and D Applicable Describes general types of conditions to be included in a permit and describes mixing zone calculations. Any point source discharge shall meet all substantive criteria, but no permit will be obtained.
Maryland - Water Pollution: Monitoring COMAR 26.08.04.03A Applicable An authorized discharge shall be subject to any monitoring requirements deemed necessary. EPA will determine appropriate monitoring requirements for the treatment plant discharge and any point source discharge from the construction zone based on all available information. This will include, but not be limited to, sampling of any contaminant that may be present.
Maryland: - Tidal Wetlands   Applicable Describes Maryland's license and permit requirements for dredging, filling, construction, reconstruction or repair of State or private, and those activities exempt from permit requirements. The substantive standards of this regulation are applicable to all Site activities that could affect wetlands. There is a small intermittent stream on the Site that could be impacted during construction. No permit will be obtained.
General: Definitions COMAR 26.24.01.02  
Conditions of a license or permit COMAR 26.24.02.06 E - H Identifies possible dredging time restrictions that may be imposed by the State
Dredging - General COMAR 26.24.03.02 D
COMAR 26.24.03.03 - .05
Identifies dredging prohibitions for new projects
Maryland - Nontidal Wetlands: Mitigation   Applicable   The substantive standards of this regulation are applicable to all Site activities that could affect wetlands.
Mitigation for Regulated Activities COMAR 26.23.04.02 States that all necessary steps shall be taken to first avoid adverse impacts and then minimize losses of nontidal wetlands. If losses are not avoidable, mitigation is required.
Mitigation Standards COMAR 26.23.04.03 Requires a minimum replacement ratio of 1:1 on an acreage basis plus additional replacement for lost value.
Maryland - Non-tidal Wetlands: General and Permit Application and Processing   Applicable Provides criteria for the following activities if undertaken in a non-tidal wetland or its buffer zone: (i) removal, excavation or dredging of any materials, (ii) changing existing drainage characteristics, sedimentation patterns, flow patterns, or flood retention characteristics, (iii) disturbance of the water level or water table by drainage, impoundment or other means, (iv) dumping, discharging of, or filling with material, or placing of obstructions, (v) grading or removal of material that would alter existing topography, or (vi) destruction or removal of plant life that would alter the character of a nontitle wetland. Any activities in these wetlands or their buffer zone that involve the following must comply with the substantive standards of these regulations: (i) removal, excavation or dredging of any materials, (ii) changing existing drainage characteristics, sedimentation patterns, flow patterns, or flood retention characteristics, (iii) disturbance of the water level or water table by drainage, impoundment or other means, (iv) dumping, discharging of, or filling with material, or placing of obstructions, (v) grading or removal of material that would alter existing topography, or (vi) destruction or removal of plant life that would alter the character of a non-tidal wetland.
Definitions COMAR 26.23.01.01  
Activities Exempt from Permit Requirements COMAR 26.23.01.02  
Expanded Buffer COMAR 26.23.01.04
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Describes the nontidal wetland areas for which the buffer is expanded to 100 feet. The OU-1 activities will comply with this requirement.
Criteria for Review of Non-tidal Wetland Permit Applications COMAR 26.23.02.04 Describes how the State reviews non-tidal wetland permits. All substantive criteria shall be complied with, but no permit will be obtained.
Water Quality and Water Management Plans COMAR 26.23.02.06 Subsection 26.23.02.06A provides substantive criteria for meeting Section 26.232.02.04A(3)'s requirement that a regulated activity cannot degrade State waters. Subsection 26.23.02.06B requires any regulated activity to be consistent with any approved comprehensive watershed management plan. The substantive criteria shall be met.
Maryland - Water Management: Construction on Non-tidal Waters and Floodplains   Applicable Governs construction, reconstruction, repair, or alteration of a dam, reservoir, or waterway obstruction or any change of the course, current, or cross section of a stream or body of water within the State including any changes to the 100-year frequency floodplain of free-flowing waters. All substantive criteria of this regulation shall be complied with, but no permit will be obtained
Scope COMAR 26.17.04.01
Definitions COMAR 26.17.04.02
Permit Applications COMAR 26.17.04.04 C, D, E, F Identifies requirements for construction in non-tidal waters and floodplains. Some temporary construction may be required in the small intermittent stream near the Dam.
Changes in Stream Channels or Floodplains COMAR 26.17.04.07 B(3-7) Describes requirements for projects that encroach on a floodplain. The Site is partially located within a floodplain.
Temporary Construction in a Stream Channel or Floodplain COMAR 26.17.04.08 B(1-3), C(1-2), and E(1-2) Describes temporary sediment control device design criteria for construction, access crossings, and storm drain outfalls in stream channels and/or floodplains. Some work in the small intermittent stream adjacent to Little Elk Creek may be required.
Criteria for Evaluating Applications COMAR 26.17.04.11 B(3) States that generally it is contrary to public interest to block free passage of fish. EPA has determined that it is contrary to public interest to block free passage of fish at this Site.
COMAR 26.17.04.11 B(5) States that construction in non-tidal wetlands is not in the public interest. If construction is unavoidable, measures must be taken to mitigate, replace or minimize the loss of aquatic or terrestrial habitat. Also provides restrictions for construction during certain periods of the year in trout waters and water with anadromous fish runs.  
COMAR 26.17.04.11 B(6) Prohibits projects that increase the risk of flooding to other property owners. Steps will be taken to avoid flood impacts to homes
COMAR 26.17.04.11 B(7) Prohibits construction or substantial improvement to any residential, commercial or industrial structure in the 100-year floodplain and below the 100-year flood elevation. Any structures which may be constructed must be built above the 100-year flood elevation.
COMAR 26.17.04.11 E Allows the State to grant variances under certain criteria.  
Federal Regulation of Activities in or Affecting Wetlands 40 CFR 6.302(a) and 6 Appendix A Applicable Sets forth EPA requirements for carrying out provisions of Executive Order 11990 (Protection of Wetlands). No activity that adversely affects a wetland shall be permitted if a practicable alternative that has less effect is available. If there is no other practicable alternative, impacts must be minimized and/or mitigated. The substantive standards of this regulation are applicable to all Site activities that could affect wetlands.

EPA has determined that there is no practicable alternative that has less effect. Efforts to minimize and mitigate, including potential off-site mitigation, will take place in order to have no net loss of wetland habitat and value.
Federal Regulation of Activities in or Affecting Floodplains 40 CFR Section 6.302(b) and Part 6 Appendix A Applicable Sets forth EPA requirements for carrying out provisions of Executive Order 11988 (Floodplain Management). No activity that adversely affects a floodplain shall be permitted if a practicable alternative that has less effect is available. If there is no other practicable alternative, impacts must be mitigated to the extent possible. The substantive standards of this regulation apply to all activities at the Site, because the Site is in a floodplain. The stream containment complies with this regulation because there is no impact to the 100-year or 500-year floodplain.

Any ground water treatment plant expansion will be built in accordance with the standards and criteria of the regulations promulgated pursuant to the National Flood Insurance Program.
Federal Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act 16 USC 661 et seq
40 CFR 6.302(g)
Applicable Requires Federal agencies involved in actions that will result in the control or structural modification of any natural stream or body of water for any purpose, to take action to protect the fish and wildlife resources which may be affected by the action. Consultation with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the appropriate State agency is required to ascertain the means and measures necessary to mitigate, prevent, and compensate for project-related losses of wildlife resources and to enhance the resources. Substantive requirements of the law/regulation will be met; the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources have been consulted.
Federal Endangered Species Act of 1978 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. Relevant and Appropriate Requires federal agencies to ensure that any action authorized by an agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or adversely affect its critical habitat. The substantive standards of this regulation apply to all activities at the Site. While no endangered species have been noted during surveys, the opportunity for endangered species to be present may be possible due to the rural setting.
Federal Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972; Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 16 USC 1451 et seq.
15 CFR Part 930.17, 20, 31-33, 37(a), 39(b-d)
Applicable Requires that Federal agencies conducting or supporting activities directly affecting the coastal zone, conduct or support those activities in a manner that is consistent with the approved appropriate State coastal zone management program. The Spectron site is within the coastal zone. The project will be conducted in a manner that is consistent with the approved Maryland coastal zone management program, to the maximum extent practicable, but no procedural requirements in the regulations must be followed.
Federal Council on Environmental Quality 40 CFR 1500.2(f) Relevant and Appropriate Requires use of all practicable means, consistent with the requirements of NEPA, to restore and enhance the quality of the human environment and avoid or minimize any possible adverse effects upon the quality of the human environment.  
Maryland: Control of Noise Pollution   Applicable Provides limits on noise levels for the protection of human health and welfare and exemptions to those limits, and specifies standards to be met by sound level meters to be used to determine compliance. Substantive standards of these regulations shall be met at the Site property boundaries during construction and during operation of the ground water treatment plant, unless the activity in question is subject to an exemption under COMAR 26.02.03.03 B(2).
Definitions COMAR 26.02.03.01
General Regulations COMAR 26.02.03.02 A(2), B(2) and COMAR 26.02.03.03A, B(2), and (D(2) and (3)
Federal Clean Water Act (CWA); National Discharge Elimination System Requirements 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. Applicable Enforceable standards for all discharges to waters of the United States. Discharge limits shall be met by the discharge from the ground water treatment plant and any point source discharge from the construction zone. Only substantive requirements shall be met and no permit shall be obtained.
Scope of the NPDES permit requirement 40 C.F.R. Part 122.1(b)(1)
Definitions 40 C.F.R. Part 122.2
New sources and new dischargers 40 C.F.R. Part 122.29
Permit Conditions 40 CFR Parts 122.41(a), (d), (e), (j)(1), and (m)(1) and (4); 122.44-45; 125.1-3; and 125.100-104
Maryland Stormwater Management   Applicable Requires stormwater management plan and contains minimum requirements for the control of stormwater, to be included in ordinances adopted by local government bodies. Provides for specific minimum control requirements and design criteria for stormwater management. The substantive standards of these requirements are applicable to the remedial activities at the Site, unless such activity is exempted under COMAR 26.09.02.05 B. No permit will be obtained.

A stormwater management plan, subject to EPA approval, will be required for this project.
Definitions COMAR 26.17.02.02
When Stormwater Management is Required COMAR 26.17.02.05 A and B
Minimum Control Requirements COMAR 26.17.02.06 A(3)
Stormwater Management Design Criteria COMAR 26.17.02.08
Federal River and Harbors Act - Section 10 33 U.S.C. Section 403 Applicable Permitting requirements for dredging, filling, or construction with the waters of the U.S. There may be temporary construction and minimal dredging of the small intermittent stream adjacent to Little Elk Creek, however, construction activities shall meet these substantive requirements. No permit will be obtained.
General policies for evaluation of permit applications 33 CFR Part 320.4
Permits for structures within or affecting navigable waters of the U.S. 33 CFR Part 322
Discharges of dredge or fill material in waters of U.S. 33 CFR Part 323
Definition of waters of the U.S. 33 CFR Part 328
Definition of navigable waters of the U.S. 33 CFR Part 329
Maryland Erosion and Sediment Control   Applicable Requires preparation of an erosion and sediment control plan for activities involving land clearing, grading and other earth disturbances and establishes erosion and sediment control criteria. The substantive standards of these regulations shall apply to clearing, grading, and excavation activities at the Site. No permit will be obtained.
Definitions COMAR 26.17.01.01
Activities for Which Approved Erosion and Sediment Control Plans are Required COMAR 26.17.01.05 A and B
Application for Approval of Erosion and Sediment Control Plans COMAR 26.17.01.07 B
Approval or Denial of Erosion and Sediment Control Plans COMAR 26.17.01.08 A and B
Maryland - Water Appropriation and Use   Applicable Establishes criteria and terms for persons appropriating or using water. The substantive standards of these regulations would apply since ground water will be removed as part of the containment system. No permit will be obtained.

The containment system will not have an area-wide impact on the water table since the collection system is a passive system and the treated ground water is being discharged back into the Creek.
Definitions COMAR 26.17.06.01
Scope and Applicability COMAR 26.17.06.03
Criteria for Approval of Water Appropriation or Use Permits COMAR 26.17.06.05
Maryland - Air Quality: General Emission Standards, Prohibitions   Applicable Provides air quality standards, general emission standards and restrictions for air emissions from articles, machine, equipment, etc. capable of generating, causing, or reducing emissions. Any equipment or construction capable of generating, causing or reducing emissions (e.g., excavation/dredging; air stripper), shall meet these substantive requirements. No permit will be obtained.
Definitions COMAR 26.11.06.01
Visible Emissions COMAR 26.11.06.02
Particulate Matter COMAR 26.11.06.03
Volatile Organic Compounds COMAR 26.11.06.06
Nuisance COMAR 26.11.06.08
Odors COMAR 26.11.06.09
Maryland - Air Quality: Toxic Air Pollutants   Applicable Requires emissions of Toxic Air Pollutants ("TAPs") from new and existing sources to be quantified (also describes methods of quantification); establishes ambient air quality standards and emission limitations for TAP emissions from new sources; requires best available control technology for toxics for new sources. The ground water treatment plant shall continue to be operated in a manner that meets the emission standards. No permit will be obtained (only the substantive standards shall be complied with).

The continued operation of the treatment plant shall be performed in such a manner as to comply with the substantive requirements of these regulations.
Definitions COMAR 26.11.15.01
Applicability and Exemptions COMAR 26.11.15.03
Requirement to Quantify Emissions COMAR 26.11.15.04 A and C
Control Technology Requirements COMAR 26.11.15.05
Ambient Impact Requirements COMAR 26.11.15.06
Demonstrating Compliance with Regulation .06 COMAR 26.11.15.07
Screening Levels COMAR 26.11.16.03
Procedures for Requesting Special Permits COMAR 26.11.16.05
Class I Toxic Air Pollutants COMAR 26.11.16.06
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Toxic Air Pollutants for Existing Sources COMAR 26.11.16.07
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Levels Used to Review Ambient Impacts COMAR 26.11.16.09
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Federal - Control of Air Emissions from Air Strippers at Superfund Groundwater Sites OSWER Directive 9355.0-28, June 15, 1989 To Be Considered This policy guides the decision of whether additional controls (beyond those required by statute or regulation) are needed for air strippers at ground water sites. This policy would be considered in determining the necessary emission controls. Sources most in need of additional controls are those with emissions rates in excess of 3 lbs./hour or a potential rate of 10 tons/year of total VOCs.
Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976; Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984 42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq. Applicable Regulates the management of hazardous waste, to ensure the safe disposal of wastes, and to provide for resource recovery from the environment by controlling hazardous wastes "from cradle to grave." Hazardous waste in the form of DNAPL may be recovered from the ground water treatment plant or monitoring wells and then temporarily stored on-site until it can be properly disposed of off-site. Therefore, in regard to the handling and disposal of hazardous waste on-site these regulations will be considered applicable.
Maryland - Disposal of Controlled Hazardous Substances   Applicable    
Definitions COMAR 26.13.01.03
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Provides definitions for when hazardous waste management requirements are triggered. These criteria and definitions shall be used in determining whether or not materials are to be handled as hazardous waste.
Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste COMAR 26.13.02.01-.06
COMAR 26.13.02.11-15A
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Contains criteria and lists for identifying characteristic and listed wastes. Use to determine if any materials handled during OU 1 construction activities (for example, the extracted ground water, ground water treatment waste, and excavated soils) are defined as hazardous waste, thus triggering on-site storage and disposal requirements.
Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste COMAR 26.13.03.01 - .06
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Applicable Establishes standards for generators of hazardous wastes. Requires making determination of material as hazardous or non-hazardous prior to on-site storage or disposal.
Standards Applicable to Transporters of Hazardous Waste COMAR 26.13.04.01 - .04
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
Applicable Establishes standards for transporters of hazardous wastes.  
Accumulation Limit COMAR 26.13.03.01 B(1) and (6)
COMAR 26.13.03.05 E
    Wastes that are hazardous waste pursuant to COMAR 26.13.02 and that are to be disposed of off-site (such as any ground water treatment sludge) shall be managed (while onsite) in accordance with the substantive standards in COMAR 26.13.03.05 E.
TSDs COMAR 26.13.05.01A(2), 26.13.05.09,
26.13.05.10-1, 2, 4A(1), B, C & D
26.13.05.10-6 A(1)-(5), (7) & (8),
Click here to read the "Exit EPA Website" Disclaimer
26.13.05.10-7A,
26.13.05.12
  Applies to all OU 1 activities that involve handling hazardous waste. Hazardous Waste is handled in the GW Treatment Bldg.
Landfills COMAR 26.13.05.14J(1)(a)-(e) and J(2)(a)-(d)
except that the reference to "post closure requirements contained in Regulation .07G-J" found in COMAR 26.13.05.14J(2) shall not be read to require compliance with any additional requirements not specifically stated herein.
Applies to owners and operators of facilities that dispose of hazardous waste in landfills. Specific cap requirements apply to the cap required by Alternatives 2, 3, 4 and 5..
Federal - Identification and Listing of Hazardous Wastes 40 CFR Part 261 Applicable Provides definitions for when hazardous waste management requirements are triggered. Contains criteria and lists for identifying characteristic and listed wastes. Use to determine if any materials handled during the OU 1 construction activities (for example, the extracted ground water, ground water treatment waste, and excavated soils) are defined as hazardous waste, thus triggering on-site storage and disposal requirements.
Federal - Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste 40 CFR Sections 262.11 Applicable Establishes standards for generators of hazardous wastes. Requires the determination of material as hazardous or non-hazardous prior to on-site storage or disposal.
Federal - Standards for Owners and Operators of Hazardous Waste Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities (TSDFs) 40 CFR Part 264 Applicable Regulations for owners and operators of TSDFs which define acceptable management of hazardous wastes. Applicable federal requirements that are not part of Maryland's authorized State RCRA program shall be required, with regard to all OU 1 construction activities that involve handling hazardous waste.
General Facility Standards (Subpart B) 40 CFR Part 264.10 -.19
Preparedness and Prevention (Subpart C) 40 CFR Part 264.30 - .37
Contingency Plan and Emergency Procedures (Subpart D) 40 CFR Part 264.50 - .56
Closure and Post-Closure (Subpart G) 40 CFR Part 264.111 - Closure performance standards
40 CFR 264.114 - Disposal or decontamination of equipment, structures and soils
   
Use and Management of Containers (Subpart I) 40 CFR 264.170-179
Tank Systems (Subpart J) 40 CFR 264.190-200 Only applicable for onsite treatment systems and temporary storage tanks containing hazardous wastes.
Surface Impoundments (Subpart K) 40 CFR 264.220-223, 226-230
Waste Piles (Subpart L) 40 CFR 264.250-254, 256-259
Air Emission Standards for Process Vents (Subpart AA) 40 CFR 264.1030-1036
Air Emission Standards for Equipment Leaks (Subpart BB) 40 CFR 264.1050-1063
Air Emission Standards for Tanks, Surface Impoundments, and Containers (Subpart CC) 40 CFR 264.1080-1088
Containment Buildings (Subpart DD) 40 CFR 264.1100-1102
Landfills 40 CFR 264.300 - .317 Relevant and Appropriate Contains requirements for landfill cap. Only those cap requirements which are more stringent than the cap requirements under Maryland's authorized RCRA program. Pertains to Alternatives 3 and 5.
RCRA* Land Disposal Restrictions 40 CFR Part 268 Applicable Restrictions on land disposal of hazardous wastes. If placement of sediments that are hazardous waste occurs (triggering the requirements of the land ban regulations), treatment may be required prior to placement.
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended 36 C.F.R. §§ 800.4(b-c), 800.4(e), 800.5(e), 800.9 Applicable Requires Remedial action to take into account effects on properties included on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Maryland Division of Historical and Cultural Programs has requested that a Determination of Eligibility (DOE) be provided since the Site is located in the Little Elk Creek Historic District which is National Register eligible. The final determination will be based on this DOE report by the Division prior to start of a remedial action. If cultural resources either on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places are present, steps will be taken to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse impacts. Only the substantive requirements will be met.

* Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976; Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments of 1984

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


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.