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Chemtronics, Inc.


Vent system above the Acid Pit Area

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Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: NCD095459392
Location: Swannanoa, Buncombe County, NC
Lat/Long: 35.625000, -082.434710
Congressional District: 11
NPL Status: Proposed: 12/30/82; Final: 09/08/83
Affected Media: Ground water, Soil
Cleanup Status: Construction complete - physical cleanup activities have been completed
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: There is insufficient data to determine
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None
Site Manager: Jon Bornholm (bornholm.jon@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Chemtronics, Inc. site includes a 20-acre industrial area affected by waste disposal practices associated with manufacturing operations, including explosives manufacturing, thought to have taken place on site from 1952 to 1971. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1983 because of contaminated ground water and soil resulting from waste disposal practices. Manufacturing activities at the site ended in 1994. EPA, the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and Environment (NCDENR), 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. By treating and monitoring ground water, addressing soil contamination, evaluating options for additional cleanup and conducting Five-Year Reviews, EPA, NCDENR and the site’s PRPs continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

Site Location and Background

The Chemtronics site is located in rural Swannanoa, North Carolina, eight miles east of Asheville. Site surroundings include sparsely populated woodlands, primarily national forests, to the north and west, industrial facilities to the south, and residences to the east. The site includes two areas: the Front Valley and the Back Valley. The primary products manufactured on-Site were explosives, propellants, incapacitating agents, and a variety of specialty chemicals. Manufacturing activities occurred primarily in the Front Valley and material testing and waste disposal occurred primarily in the Back Valley. Manufacturing and related activities occurred on less than 200 acres of the Site and were primarily located in the southern portion of the Site. Most of the manufacturing activities were discontinued by the late 1980s and all manufacturing activities ceased in 1994.

Industrial operations, including explosives manufacturing, began at the site in 1952. The site has had several owners/operators. The site is not in use.

In the 1980s, NCDENR also required cleanup actions on the portion of the site not addressed by the Superfund program under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations identified contamination in ground water and soil that could potentially harm people in the area. Ground water and soil contamination resulted from past manufacturing and testing activities and waste disposal practices at the site. In the 1980’s, investigators identified 23 on-site disposal areas. In the 2000’s and working under the RCRA program, a number of RCRA solid waste management units (SWMUs) were identified.
From 1952 to 1971, operators reportedly incinerated solid waste materials and possibly solvents in pits located in an area known as the Acid Pit Area. Operators also disposed of chemical wastes in trenches in the Acid Pit Area. Contaminants of concern include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds and metals.

The site’s PRPs have addressed on-site disposal areas containing Superfund-related soil contamination by capping the contaminated soil in place. The PRPs fenced each of the identified disposal areas. The PRPs are currently investigating other disposal areas.

Although contaminated ground water is contained within the property boundary, monitoring has identified contaminants in wells on the perimeter of the property. The levels of these contaminants are at or below state drinking water standards. The PRPs continue to address Superfund-related ground water contamination using two pump-and-treat systems, one in each valley. Some nearby residences use private wells. However, sampling conducted to date has not identified any site-related contaminants in these private wells. The PRPs are now conducting a Site-wide Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) under a 2008 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC). The focus of this Site-wide RI/FS is to understand adverse impacts to the environment associated with the identified 14 SWMUs and 31 “operational areas” where there was reasonable potential for soil impacts. Site-related contamination is not affecting nearby residences. The Agency is currently evaluating the 2013 Draft Remedial Investigation based on the Site-wide approach.

In 2004, the PRPs demolished all manufacturing related buildings on site. The only buildings remaining onsite are those associated with site cleanup efforts.

EPA has determined that vapor intrusion is not a threat to off-site residences.

EPA considered children’s health issues as part of the site’s risk assessment.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The site’s PRPs lead site investigation and cleanup activities, with oversight provided by EPA and NCDENR. Between 1985-1988, the PRPs conducted the Superfund related disposal RI/FS at the site.

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Site Cleanup Plan

In 1998, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for the site. The plan included the following activities:

In 1989, EPA issued a ROD Amendment that deleted the requirement to solidify soils in one of the disposal areas. The requirement resulted from a typing error during the remedial investigation and carried over into the ROD.

Currently, the PRPs are conducting a number of pilot scale treatability studies to determine if in-situ bioremediation is a feasible technology to employ for addressing ground water contamination at the site.

The Agency anticipates issuing the Site-wide ROD in 2015.

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the ROD.

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Cleanup Progress

From 1991 until 1993, the site’s PRPs capped contaminated soil in the disposal areas. The PRPs installed multi-layer caps on all disposal areas including the Acid Pit Area. The PRPs also installed a gas venting system in the Acid Pit Area as well as pump-and-treat systems below the disposal areas in both valleys. Ground water treatment is ongoing. As of May 2014, over 21 million gallons of contaminated ground water have been successfully treated in the Front Valley and over 78 million gallons of contaminated ground water have been successfully treated in the Back Valley. All treated ground water is discharged into the Buncombe County Metropolitan Sewerage District.

In 1997, the PRPs undertook corrective actions to improve the operation of both pump-and-treat systems. These corrections significantly reduced the systems’ down time.

The site’s first and second Five-Year Reviews were completed in 2002 and 2007, respectively. The third Five-Year Review was completed in September 2012 and found that the cleanup remains protective of human health and the environment in the short-term because the areas of soil contamination at the Site, where known waste disposal activity occurred, have been capped and fenced, which limits direct contact exposure, and there is no current exposure to contaminated groundwater. However, in order for the remedy to be protective in the long-term, the following actions need to be taken: determine source of solids and develop procedure/process to eliminate/remove solids before effluent from groundwater treatment system is discharged; conduct a capture zone analysis for both groundwater extraction systems; re-evaluate the current groundwater remediation levels in light of current potential ARARs; evaluate the need for the “trigger” (i.e., contingency) included in the 1988 ROD and if warranted, better describe/explain the contingency in the forthcoming site-wide ROD; place Perpetual Land Use Restrictions (Institutional Controls) on the property; and assess the potential for a vapor intrusion pathway.

These Five-Year Review Reports can be viewed online at:  http://cumulis.epa.gov/fiveyear/?fuseaction=home.showSearchForm

Since 2003, EPA, NCDENR and site PRPs have been working together to comprehensively address site investigation and cleanup activities. In 2008, at the request of NCDENR, EPA and site PRPs negotiated an agreement under which parties agreed to address the former RCRA areas at the site under the Superfund program. As part of efforts to combine and place all site investigation and cleanup requirements under the Superfund program, the PRPs are updating the original remedial investigation and feasibility study conducted before EPA issued the 1998 Superfund site cleanup plan (ROD) to address RCRA-related waste.

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

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Enforcement Activities

EPA has identified three viable PRPs at the site: Chemtronics, Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and CNA Holdings, Inc. In 1989, EPA ordered the PRPs to carry out Superfund-related cleanup actions.
In 2008, EPA and the site’s PRPs signed a legal agreement to address the cleanup of former RCRA areas at the site under the Superfund program.

The PRPs continue 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 the program’s activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the site 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 public meetings on cleanup activities and updates.

In 2009, EPA held a “kickoff” meeting to discuss the planned remedial investigation/feasibility study update with the community. In 2013, EPA assisted in the formation of the Swannanoa Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG). Their email address is - swannanoasuperfund@gmail.com and their website address is - https://sites.google.com/site/swannanoasuperfundcag/.

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Future Work

Complete the Site-wide RI/FS and issue the Site-wide ROD.

Complete the ongoing pilot scale treatability studies.

The next Five-Year Review is planned to be completed in 2017.

Ground water monitoring and treatment is ongoing.

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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

Warren Wilson College Library
701 Warren Wilson Road
Swannanoa, NC  28778

Remedial Investigation Documents

If you need assistance in obtaining the content of these PDF documents, please contact the site RPM, Jon Bornholm (bornholm.jon@epa.gov).

Site Management Plan (PDF) (146pp, 31MB)

Phase II Report (PDF) (717pp, 46MB)
Phase II Lab Reports (PDF) (923pp, 38MB)

Water Sampling Plan (PDF) (344pp, 17MB)
Water Sampling Report (PDF) (384pp, 40MB)

Volume 1: RIFS Workplan Overview (PDF) (359pp, 68MB)
Volume 2: Field Sampling Plan (PDF (661pp, 147MB)
Volume 3: QAPP (PDF) (317pp, 62MB)
Volume 4: Eco Risk Assess Plan (PDF) (99pp, 21MB)
Volume 5: Health and Safety Plan (PDF) (54pp, 13MB)

Data Summary Report: Volume 1 (PDF) (280pp, 18MB)
Data Summary Report: Volume 2 (PDF) (962pp, 140MB)
Data Summary Report: Volume 3 (PDF) (317pp, 62MB)
Data Summary Report: Volume 4 (PDF) (99pp, 21MB)
Data Summary Report: Volume 5 (PDF) (54pp, 13MB)

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