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Greenwood Chemical Company

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Albemarle County

EPA ID# VAD003125374

5th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names


Current Site Status

On September 9, 2013 EPA issued a Five-Year Review Report concluding that the selected remedy is protective in the short term; however, for the remedy to be protective in the long-term institutional controls limiting future land use must be placed on the Site. The full report is available on the EPA 5 Year Review Report website.

On September 18, 2013 EPA filed a Deed Notice in the Albemarle County Recorder of Deeds office, describing the appropriate land use restrictions included in the selected remedy. Placement of the institutional control instrument addressed a concern raised in the Five-Year Review Report. The selected remedy is protective in the long-term. A copy of the Deed Notice is available (18 pp, 2.12 MB, About PDF).

On March 15, 2012 VDEQ took over responsibility for maintaining on-going operations, maintenance and monitoring at the Site. EPA had operated the facility for 10-years and continues to provide technical support to VDEQ during its operations.

In December 2005, EPA completed upgrades to the on-site groundwater recovery well system; improving capture efficiency by including additional recovery wells to the system. The enhanced groundwater recovery well system is pumping contaminated groundwater (water located beneath the Site) to an on-site water treatment plant. The cleansed water is then discharged to an unnamed tributary to West Creek. VDEQ is conducting routine monitoring to confirm that project goals are being met.

Site Description

The Greenwood Chemical Site, located in Albemarle County, Virginia (5th Congressional District) is an 18-acre site which once held a facility that produced chemicals for industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and photographic processes from the late 1940s until 1985. Manufacturing activities ceased in April 1985 following a toluene vapor explosion and fire which destroyed the process building and resulted in the death of four workers.

Starting in the early 1980s, the Virginia State Department of Health began to investigate the Site due to reports of poorly managed waste disposal practices. By summer 1986, conditions at the site had worsened to the point where emergency response by EPA was deemed necessary. More than 600 leaking and deteriorated drums, both at the surface and buried, were identified along with seven uncontrolled waste water treatment/disposal lagoons having elevated concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) such as toluene and benzene, and semi-VOCs, such as naphthalene. Groundwater beneath the site is contaminated and, prior to EPA's cleanup actions, pose a potential threat to nearby residential water wells. An estimated 1,600 people live within a three mile radius of the site and rely on groundwater as their drinking water source. EPA and VDEQ have routinely performed sampling of residential wells which, to date have shown no elevated site-related contaminants and have met Federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

Site Responsibility
On March 15, 2012 VDEQ took over responsibility for maintaining on-going operations, maintenance and monitoring at the Site. EPA had operated the facility for 10-years and continues to provide technical support to VDEQ during its operations.
NPL Listing History
This site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long term remedial action on January 22, 1987. The site was formally added to the list July 22, 1987, making it eligible for federal cleanup.

Threats and Contaminants

Specific contaminants detected in the groundwater beneath the site include: VOCs, such as carbon tetrachloride, tetrachloroethene, and trichloroethene.; and semi-VOCs, such as bis 2-chloroethyl ether from former plant operations. Prior to EPA's cleanup activities, potential risks were presented by these hazardous substances (VOCs and semi-VOCs) which were present in surface soils, lagoons and the abandoned chemical plant. The only remaining potential health threats include accidental ingestion of, or direct contact with the contaminated groundwater located beneath the site. Contact with water being discharged from the treatment plant does not pose a health threat.

Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.

Cleanup Progress

Starting in 1987, EPA initiated emergency response actions which included: the excavation and proper disposal of an estimated 500 buried drums; proper disposal of an estimated 100 surface drums and 32 pressurized gas cylinders; drainage and treatment of liquids from the three most highly contaminated lagoons; and temporarily capping the drained lagoons.

After completing environmental investigations and evaluating available cleanup options, in 1989 EPA issued its Record of Decision (1989 ROD) documenting the chosen cleanup remedy. The 1989 ROD selected a cleanup plan to address the highly contaminated lagoon sludges, contaminated soils, and containerized chemicals abandoned within the former manufacturing buildings (Operable Unit 1, or OU-1).

In accordance with the 1989 ROD, EPA transported the abandoned chemicals that remained in the buildings to appropriate treatment and/or disposal facilities, and subsequently demolished several of the former chemical manufacturing buildings. The transportation and off-site disposal of contaminated building materials (over 100 roll-off containers) was completed in early 1993.

In 1996, EPA excavated approximately 15,000 tons of soil contaminated with organic chemicals from seven discrete source areas including former disposal lagoons, pits and trenches. The soil was transported from the site to a rail transfer station where it was placed in railcars for final shipment to a hazardous waste incinerator in Utah for treatment and disposal. This soil removal was completed in September 1996.

In 1990, EPA issued an interim ROD (1990 interim-ROD) selecting an interim cleanup plan to address contaminated groundwater beneath the site (OU-2) . The 1990 interim-ROD called for pumping contaminated groundwater, along with surface water from lagoons 4 and 5, to an on-site water treatment plant and discharging the cleansed water to an unnamed tributary to West Creek. Construction of the groundwater/surface water pump-and-treat system began in fall 1998 and was completed by summer 2000. Full scale operation of the pump-and-treat system began in March 2001. A final ROD establishing groundwater cleanup goals was issued in September 2005. EPA expanded the existing groundwater pump-and-treat system with additional wells in December 2005.

In November 2004, EPA completed cleaning out and properly disposing the last of the abandoned chemicals in a former laboratory. In May 2005, EPA completed the removal of contaminated sludge/sediment from Lagoons 4 and 5 and disposed of approximately 19,500 tons of arsenic-contaminated surface soil in an appropriate disposal facility. These areas were filled in with clean soil, graded and seeded to help prevent erosion.

In July 2013, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences updating the list of appropriate land use restrictions to include the following:
1) residential use,
2) on-Site potable use of groundwater,
3) any activity that would adversely impact the operation of the pump and treat system,
4) any removal of the soil cover without written permission of the EPA and/or VDEQ,
5) deep excavation without a site-specific health and safety plan. Any soil excavated from the Waste Management Areas would need to be sampled and managed in an appropriate manner; and,
6) any new habitable buildings constructed over or within 100 feet of the groundwater contaminated by volatile contaminants should include, at a minimum, a foundation vapor barrier and the subsurface piping for a sub-slab depressurization system.

The ongoing, periodic residential well sampling was last completed by VDEQ in Spring 2014. With property owners' permission, the next round of sampling is expected to be completed by VDEQ in Spring 2015. Residential wells were first sampled in the late 1980's and have continually shown no elevated site-related contaminants.


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