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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

North Smithfield Sodium Permanganate Release

EPA responded to a suspected release of sodium permanganate in North Smithfield, RI to the Branch River on March 15, 2004. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) arrived on scene as well in response to a reported red release into the Branch River that had been underway for several hours. The source was traced to a catch basin on the Phillips Components Facility on Industrial Road, off the Pound Road exit of Route 146. Coordination with facility personnel indicated that an injection of sodium permanganate to treat a TCE plume had been performed earlier in the day. Lincoln Environmental, Rhode Island DEM's contractor, was on scene, and efforts to contain the release to the catch basin were underway by early evening. However, red colored water continued to flow into the catch basin, and injections were being performed by Shaw Environmental, under contract to Phillips. Efforts to contact project personnel were unsuccessful. The extent of discoloration in river was unknown at that time, and property ownership was unclear as well. Phillips Components was the owner, but NMC was the tenant. Amperax was expected to close on the property under facilitation of a Brownfields project.

The release was partially contained overnight by plugging the storm drain outlet pipe and pumping/flushing the system of catch basins and piping. Responders filled a 3,000-gallon tank truck with product/water mix, and personnel demobilized from the scene, with the storm drain outlet running clear. When personnel returned in the morning, the storm drain plug released, and the outlet was purple. Even so, the river was normal in color. Pumping and flushing continued, filling 55-gallon drums and mobile steel "frac" tanks. Responders observed no fish kill, with minnows/tadpoles in the impacted area acting normally. The pH of the storm drain outlet was 9.0, and the river was neutral. By late morning, the responsible party's (RP) contractor had relieved Rhode Island's, with concurrence from the state and EPA. The responsible party indicated it would pay for Lincoln Environmental's costs.

The cause of the release was thought to be that an injection well(s) either had penetrated the storm sewer line and/or injection well(s) penetrated a highly conductive formation (such as gravel along the storm drain).

Location: Industrial Highway, North Smithfield, RI
Start date: 03/15/2004
End date: 03/16/2004
Contact: Claudia Deane (deane.claudia@epa.gov)

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