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1650 Arch Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-2029
Phone - 215/814-5120 Fax - 215/814-5102

EPA Environmental News

Contact: Ruth Podems (215) 814-5540
August 10, 1998


PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, awarded a $2.8 million contract for construction
of a water treatment system to Norair Engineering Corporation of Landover, Md. The water treatment system will be built at the Greenwood Chemical Company Superfund site in Albemarle County, Va. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been assisting EPA with cleanup activities at the former Greenwood Chemical Co.

The site is one of 28 in Virginia on EPA's National Priorities List of the most severely contaminated toxic waste sites in the country. From 1945 to 1985, the facility produced chemicals for industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical and photographic processes. Manufacturing activities came to an abrupt halt in 1985 after a chemical vapor explosion and fire destroyed the process building and killed four workers. The Virginia Department of Health investigated reports of poor waste disposal practices.

By 1986, site conditions had worsened to the point that EPA took emergency, actions to stem immediate threats to the environment and public health. More than 600 leaking and deteriorated drums, both at the surface and buried, were removed from the site, contaminated sludges were stabilized, and shock-sensitive, explosive, flammable or
highly toxic chemicals were removed and disposed of. EPA dismantled chemical manufacturing buildings, and excavated approximately 11,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Contaminants detected in groundwater, soils and sludges include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene, chloroform and benzene, semi-VOCs including naphthalene, and inorganic chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide.

Groundwater beneath the site is contaminated and threatens nearby residential water supply wells. An estimated 1,600 people live within a three-mile radius of the site
and rely on groundwater as the sole source of drinking water. EPA routinely performs sampling of nearby residential wells. Norair Engineering Corporation will build a surface water/groundwater collection and treatment system, estimated to take one year to complete.