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Whitehouse Oil Pits

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Man-made swamp at the Whitehouse Oil Pits site.
- Additional Site Photos

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: FLD980602767
Location: Jacksonville, Duval County, FL
Lat/Long: 30.320100, -081.851300
Congressional District: 06
NPL Status: Proposed: 12/30/82; Final: 09/08/83
Affected Media: Debris, Ground water, Sludge, Soil, Surface water, Sediment
Cleanup Status: Construction Complete – physical cleanup activities have been completed
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: Yes
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: Not in use – potential for future recreational and ecological use
Site Manager: Rusty Kestle (kestle.rusty@epa.gov)


Current Site Status

The Whitehouse Oil Pits site is a vacant former industrial property where Allied Petroleum disposed of acidic waste oil sludge from 1958 until 1968. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983 because of contaminated debris, ground water, sludge, soil, surface water and sediment resulting from past waste oil disposal practices. EPA, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Land use controls including site perimeter fencing and a restrictive covenant limiting well placement and future land uses prevent contact with contaminated soil and ground water. Site contamination is not a threat to nearby residents and businesses. A water line now connects most residences in the immediate vicinity of site contamination to the public water supply. By monitoring ground water and undertaking Five-Year Reviews, EPA, FDEP, the City of Jacksonville and the site’s PRPs continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 7-acre site occupies an upland area next to a cypress swamp in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida. Currently, the site includes a grassy field with ground water monitoring wells and passive soil gas vents. Several residential neighborhoods are located north, east and south of the site.

Between 1958 and 1968, Allied Petroleum disposed of contaminated acidic waste oil sludges from their oil reclaiming operations in seven unlined pits on the site. The operations ceased in 1968 when Allied Petroleum declared bankruptcy and the City of Jacksonville assumed ownership of the site property by tax default. In 1976, ruptures in the dike systems around two of the pits occurred, releasing more than 200,000 gallons of waste into the wetlands along McGirts Creek.

In 1983, EPA listed the site on the NPL. The site property has not been in use since Allied Petroleum’s bankruptcy in 1968 and remains vacant. The site property has potential to support recreational or ecological land uses in the future.

View site location map.

Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in debris, ground water, sludge, soil, surface water and sediment at the site that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from wastes disposal practices at the site. Contaminants of concern identified include heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Nearly all contamination that remains is contained in an on-site landfill. A slurry wall – a below-ground barrier containing contaminated ground water – around the entire site and a surface cap over the top of the site prevent contamination from coming into contact with area ground water.

The releases of wastes in 1976 contaminated nearby wetlands and the surficial ground water aquifer beneath the site. Most area residents used private wells for drinking water, though no contamination above health-based levels affected the residential wells. Residences now connect to the public water system. In addition, a restrictive covenant limits the placement of wells on the site property and restricts future land uses to ensure their compatibility with the site’s remedy. The site is also fenced to restrict access. The connection of residences to the public water system and these land use controls ensure that there is no direct contact exposure pathway to contaminants in surface soils or ground water.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The PRPs lead site investigation and cleanup activities, with oversight provided by EPA and FDEP.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 1985, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included the following activities:

Based on the results of treatability study, which evaluated the effectiveness of cleanup approaches, and feasibility studies, EPA issued a ROD Amendment in 1992 that required a combination of on-site soil cleanup techniques.

Supplemental treatability study and feasibility studies conducted between 1995 and 1997 demonstrated that neither the soil treatment system nor the ground water treatment system specified in the 1992 ROD Amendment would adequately address site contamination. Therefore, EPA issued a second ROD Amendment in September 1998 to address all contaminated media at the site. Major components of the plan included:

In 1994, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) to adjust the cleanup plan in the site’s 1998 ROD Amendment. The ESD modified the size of the slurry wall, the size of the surface cap and the rerouting area of the tributary, based on the discovery of additional contamination.

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the ROD and Five-Year Reviews.

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Cleanup Progress

Many site PRPs funding the cleanup formed a Remedial Action Group (RAG) to clean up the site. However, the PRP for a portion of waste at the site because was either unidentifiable or insolvent and funds were not collected to address that portion of the contamination. EPA assumed the cost of this funding gap, called an orphan share, and became a participant in the RAG as well. This innovative approach to funding cleanup meant that combined federal funds and PRP funds implemented the selected cleanup plan. 

EPA and the City of Jacksonville conducted several initial response actions to stabilize site conditions and to prevent the spread of contamination prior to the final cleanup. A water treatment system installed drained contaminated liquids from the pits and stabilized remaining wastes with backfill materials, such as clean soil. Parties placed a soil cover over the fill and seeded it. Ditches constructed controlled runoff and a fence erected around the perimeter of the site restricted access.

A water main extension constructed by the Jacksonville Electrical Authority provided water service to residents along Machelle Drive and portions of Chaffee Road on a voluntary basis and at no cost to the homeowners.

The off-site McGirts Creek response action began in January 2004. Contaminated sediment dug up for on-site disposal restored the wetland area to its pre-existing grade. Parties planted a mix of wetland tree species in the restored area.

Solidification/stabilization of soil over the former waste oil pits began in February 2004. Parties built a continuous monolith, which is a solid structure formed by mixing stabilized contaminants with cement, of blended soil and concrete over a 5.4-acre area, serving both as a physical barrier to the waste and as structural support for the cap. Parties completed construction of the slurry wall in July 2005 and the multi-layer cap and cover system in January 2006.

The slurry wall connected with the existing aquitard – a below-ground zone with low permeability – at the site. In addition, the slurry wall also acts to buffer the pH of water contained in the enclosure.

Parties completed the site’s cleanup on May 4, 2006. Ground water monitoring results continue to indicate that the cleanup is effectively isolating ground water contamination.

The site’s first Five-Year Review, completed in 2008, found that the cleanup approach is protecting residents and workers from remaining site contamination.

Summaries of cleanup activities are also available in Five-Year Reviews online.

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Enforcement Activities

EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site PRP to investigate and clean up the site. The PRP continues to fund site cleanup, monitoring and oversight activities.

RODs and Five-Year Reviews online provide information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process.

Outreach efforts have included public notices, interviews and information meetings on cleanup progress and activities.

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Future Work

Operation and maintenance activities are underway. These activities include routine inspections, ground water monitoring and inspection/maintenance of the vegetative cover and other plantings.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Whitehouse Elementary School Media Center
11160 General Avenue
Whitehouse, FL  32220

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