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Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)
EPA ID# VAD003127578
9th Congressional District
Last Update: January 2015
Current Site StatusEPA issued a Five-Year Review in September 2012 which found that remedies constructed to date are meeting their objectives. The next Five-Year Review is expected to be issued in September 2017. The Olin Corporation, the sole potentially responsible party, has completed the construction of an impermeable cap over the 75-acre waste disposal area known as Pond 5 and a soil cover over the 45-acre waste disposal area known as Pond 6. A wildlife habitat area has been created on both ponds. Olin is operating an on-site water treatment plant to treat water contaminated by leachate from Ponds 5 and 6. Additional investigations are currently underway to support the selection of remedies for the Former Chlorine Plant Site and the North Fork Holsten River and to further investigate Pond 5 and Pond 6.
The Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds site, located on the border of Smyth and Washington Counties, Virginia is a 125-acre site which was part of Olin Corporation's Saltville facility. The site consists of the Former Chlorine Plant Site, two large waste impoundments referred to as Pond 5 and Pond 6, and areas to which contamination has migrated, including the North Fork Holston River (NFHR).
The Saltville facility was in operation from 1895 to 1972. Several different waste streams were generated over that period of time. The primary contaminant of concern, mercury, was in a waste product generated by the chlorine gas plant which operated from the early 1950s to 1972. "Pond 5" is a 75-acre disposal area containing mercury-tainted wastes buried 80-feet thick. In addition, the waste material is pH 12 so that direct contact with the skin will cause chemical burns. "Pond 6" is a 45-acre disposal area containing high pH wastes buried 30-feet thick. Elevated mercury levels are also present in soil and groundwater in the area beneath the former chlorine plant. Mercury from the site has accumulated in fish in the NFHR and presents a risk to those who may eat the fish.
- Site Responsibility
- Cleanup for this site is the responsibility of the federal and state governments, and the potentially responsible parties.
- 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 December 30, 1982. The Site was formally added to the list September 8, 1983, making it eligible for Federal cleanup funds.
Threats and ContaminantsMercury from the former chlorine plant and Pond 5 has contaminated underlying ground water and the adjacent NFHR. Incidental ingestion of or direct contact with waste materials in Pond 5 and Pond 6 presents a health risk of concern. Cleanup actions completed to date have addressed this risk. Accidental ingestion of impacted ground water or eating contaminated fish from the NFHR may pose a health risk. There has been a ban on consumption of fish caught from the NFHR since the early 1970s due to high levels of mercury in fish tissue.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
In 1982, the Virginia State Water Control Board issued a Special Order requiring Olin to dredge mercury contaminated sediments from a 1000-foot section of the river adjacent the Former Chlorine Plant Site. In June 1987, EPA issued a Record of Decision ( ROD-1) which identified interim measures to be taken to reduce the migration of mercury to the river. In 1988, Olin entered into a Consent Decree wherein it agreed to implement the interim actions and to perform a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) encompassing the remaining portions of the site, including the River. Consistent with ROD-1, Olin constructed a water treatment plant to remove mercury from leachate generated at Pond 5, and constructed a network of surface water diversion ditches to intercept clean storm water flowing toward the waste impoundments and convey this water directly to the NFHR. The water treatment plant began operation in 1994; treatment of water contaminated by leachate from Pond 6 was added in late 2001.
In 1997, Olin entered into a second Consent Decree wherein it agreed to implement the actions selected in ROD-2. The estimated cost of this remedial action was $35,000,000. On-site construction of the remedy selected in ROD-2 began in April 2001 was completed in Fall 2002. This work included, but was not limited to, construction of a cap over Pond 5 and a soil cover over Pond 6.