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Rhinehart Tire Fire

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Frederick County
6 miles west of Winchester

EPA ID# VAD980831796

10th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015
No future updates

Other Names

Winchester Tire Fire

Current Site Status

On Monday, August 1, 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued two deletion notices in the federal register to utilize the streamlined process to delete the Rhinehart Tire Fire Dump site from the National Priorities List. Under the streamlined deletion process, EPA simultaneously issues the Notice of Intent to Delete and the Direct Final Notice of Deletion so that the deletion occurs automatically 60 days after issuing the notices if no adverse comments are received. Since no adverse comments were received, the deletion of the Rhinehart Tire Fire Dump site became effective on September 30, 2005. Prior to the deletion, EPA completed the final phase of cleanup at the Rhinehart Tire Fire Site on September 27, 2002. EPA completed a site-wide study in the winter of 2000 that provided the information needed to select the final site closure remedy. EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) selected the final site closure remedy in a Record of Decision dated September 29, 2000. The final remedy includes removal of the sediments in Rhinehart's Pond and 150 feet of the adjacent stream (Massey Run) that flows from the site, and decommissioning the previously constructed facilities. The decommissioning activities include removal of the dam at Rhinehart's Pond, removal of the water treatment plant, removal of the oil/water separator, abandoning the storm sewer, removal of the fencing, either removal of the shotcrete or covering the shotcrete with soil, re-vegetating the slopes, and re-contouring Massey Run through the areas of the former Rhinehart's Pond and the former Dutchman's Pond. EPA initiated the design of the final remedy in January 2001 and completed it in September 2001. Based on an engineering analysis performed during the design, EPA decided to cover the shotcrete with soil prior to re-vegetating these areas.

Site Description

The Rhinehart Tire Fire site, located in Frederick County, Virginia, is a 22-acre site situated in a sparsely populated rural area. Between 1972 and 1983, the site owner conducted a tire re-use/disposal operation, handling as many as twenty-five million tires. Most of the tires were re-sold for re-tread and others for dock linings, etc. The remainder of the tires, those that were in too bad shape for commercial use, were stored in the natural drainage swale of a wooded slope behind his home. On October 31, 1983 a fire broke out in the five-acre tire storage area and burned until July 4, 1984, consuming an estimated five to seven million tires. Due to the magnitude of the fire, State officials requested assistance from EPA. The burning tires produced a free flowing oily-tar which ultimately contaminated sediment and surface water of the adjacent stream, Massey Run.
Site Responsibility
Cleanup for this site is the responsibility of the federal and state governments.
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 October 15, 1984. The site was formally added to the list June 10, 1986, making it eligible for federal cleanup funds.

Threats and Contaminants

The levels of contaminants in the soil and groundwater are comparable to background levels. The sediments of the on-site pond (Rhinehart's Pond) and adjacent stream system and the surface water of the pond were contaminated with elevated levels of zinc. Test results revealed the surface water and sediments were acutely and chronically toxic to the ecosystem. Human exposure to contaminants could have occurred by coming into direct contact with, or incidentally ingesting contaminated surface water or sediments. Without removal of the contaminated sediments, eating trout with bioaccumulated contaminants from Hogue Creek may have been 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

In November 1983, during the fire fighting operations, EPA's Emergency Response Team constructed a lined containment basin (Dutchman's Pond). The basin allowed EPA to collect over 800,000 gallons of the oily waste which was subsequently removed from the site and recycled into fuel oils. In 1988, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) which documented an imterim remedy to control the contaminants leaving the site via surface water runoff. The remedy included soil erosion controls, raising the height of the existing dam on Rhinehart's Pond, collecting and treating surface water runoff, and implementing a groundwater collection and oil/water separation system. Construction of the remedy was completed in April 1992. The on-site treatment plant eventually treated over 75 million gallons of water contaminated with heavy metals that otherwise would have discharged directly to the adjacent stream.

In 1992, EPA completed a study exploring methods to remove Dutchman's Pond. The selected remedy to close this impoundment was documented in a ROD signed in 1992. Remedial action to implement the clean closure of this basin was completed in 1995.

EPA initiated on-site construction of the third and final phase of cleanup work at the Rhinehart Tire Fire Site in March 2002 and completed the work in September 2002. The remaining hazardous substances and materials were removed from the site during the final phase of cleanup. As such, there is no need to perform any monitoring of the site.


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