Enforcement and Assistance in New England
Beede Waste Oil Superfund Site
The Beede Waste Oil Superfund Site is in Plaistow, NH. The 40-acre site is comprised of two parcels and is surrounded by primarily residential properties that are serviced by individual water wells and septic systems. The site was the location of several oil-related operations, including waste oil processing and re-sale, fuel oil sale, contaminated soil processing into cold-mix asphalt, anti-freeze recycling, and other related industries. These activities were reportedly conducted from the 1920's until operations ceased in August 1994.
When operations ended, the property was littered with approximately 100 large above-ground storage tanks containing hazardous and non-hazardous oil product; several large piles of soil containing varying levels of contamination; and about 800 drums of oil product, some containing hazardous materials that were stored in an open, roofed area. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in the oil product of many tanks and drums at concentrations generally less than 50 parts per million (ppm) but as high as 1,800 ppm.
EPA and New Hampshire began removal actions at the site in 1996, and a non-time critical fund-lead removal action is continuing. In January 2004, EPA announced a $48 million comprehensive cleanup plan for completing the final phase of cleanup of the site. Past costs for the site are approximately $26 million. EPA originally identified over 2000 potentially responsible parties for the site, including mostly large and small businesses, as well as some municipalities and non-profit entities.
EPA entered into four separate de minimis settlements with a total of 1,200 parties and collected over $17 million, which is being held in the Beede Special Account for site related costs. The Region’s proactive approach in offering early settlement opportunities for the smallest volume hazardous waste contributors enabled many small businesses, municipalities and non-profits to conclude their involvement with the Beede site. These early settlements helped the parties to avoid transaction costs often associated with the lengthy process of global Superfund negotiations, and reduced the number of parties remaining for final remedy negotiations.
In the fall of 2005, EPA invited 97 of the largest volume contributors at Beede to enter into negotiations for performance of the site remedy. Even though EPA provided the parties with five months to submit a good faith offer for performance of remedial design and remedial action at the site, the parties failed to submit an offer that would make negotiations possible.
As a result, in June 2006, EPA issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to 30 of the largest volume parties, including ExxonMobil, Cumberland Farms, Waste Management, Vernon Plastics and twenty-six other parties, most of whom are generators of hazardous waste to the site. The Order included a delayed effective date of 45 days from signature, during which time EPA and the Respondents could discuss the Order and performance of the site remedy.
The Respondents reacted quickly and immediately sought to convert the Order to a consensual global consent decree. EPA agreed to extend the effective date of the Order while EPA and the Respondents engaged in intensive negotiations from June through the fall of 2006. A final agreement is expected to be filed with the Court in January of 2007.
W.R. Grace Superfund Site
W.R. Grace Superfund Site is located in the Towns of Acton and Concord, Massachusetts. It is comprised of approximately 260 acres of land that include several surface water bodies and various wetlands. W.R. Grace is the responsible party that is funding and performing all site investigations, sampling, and reporting. Both EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection have been performing oversight activities at the site. The Town of Acton has two public well fields located near the site. Assabet Wells 1 and 2 are located approximately 1,300 feet south of the site and the School Street Well field is located approximately 3,700 feet northeast of the site. Because of the proximity of these drinking water wells to contamination located on the Grace property, there has been continual intense public interest in this Superfund site since its inclusion on the National Priorities List in 1983.
W.R. Grace acquired the property in 1954 from the Dewey and Almy Chemical Company and continued manufacturing operations at the site. Grace produced materials used to make concrete additives, organic chemicals, container sealing compounds, latex products and paper, and plastic battery separators. Process wastewater was disposed of in several on-site lagoons and solid industrial wastes were disposed of in an on-site landfill.
In keeping with previous settlements with W. R. Grace regarding the site, on-site soil contamination has been addressed and a limited groundwater cleanup has been conducted on the Grace property. Because significant groundwater contamination remained both on and off of its property, EPA entered into an agreement with Grace in 1998 to conduct a final Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) to address this remaining groundwater contamination. As part of this investigation, additional sediment and surface water contamination was discovered on-site. As a result, sediment and surface water was also included as part of this final RI/FS.
On September 30, 2005, EPA selected a comprehensive cleanup plan that addressed all current and potential future risks caused by contaminated groundwater on and off of the Grace Property, and surface water and sediment contamination on the Grace property. Since that time, EPA has engaged in extensive negotiations with W. R. Grace regarding the conduct of this work. Under the terms of an $18 million settlement, Grace will be required to pump and treat contaminated groundwater until safe levels are reached (in approximately 23 years) and aggressively address contaminated sediment and surface water located on its property. Grace is also required to put in place site-wide institutional controls to prevent unacceptable exposure to hazardous substances in the future. Finally, this settlement requires Grace to perform long-term monitoring and operation and maintenance of the selected remedy over time.