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Congressional District # 03


EPA ID# MID980477079
Last Updated: February, 2015

Site Description

The Chem Central site is located in Wyoming, Kent County, Michigan. Since 1957, Chem Central has distributed industrial chemicals from this two acre site. Between 1957 and 1962, hazardous wastes entered the ground at the facility through a construction flaw in a pipe used to transfer liquids between rail cars and bulk storage tanks. The flaw was repaired after losses were noted in chemical inventories. In 1977, the state found the toxic contaminants (volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chlorinated solvents) in sediments in a ditch, located 1,000 feet from the site. The state dammed the ditch and restricted access by fencing and posting signs. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) excavated sludge from the ditch in 1978 and with state assistance continued to sample soil and groundwater that seeped into a pit. A 1984 state court order required Chem Central to clean up the groundwater and remove contaminated soils from the ditch. The site is located in an industrial area. Approximately 15,000 people live within one mile of the site. The nearest residence is within one-tenth mile from the site. All residences are connected to the Grand Rapids municipal water supply which draws water from Lake Michigan and the Grand River. Surface water runoff from the site drains into Cole Drain which also drains other industrial sites nearby. Cole Drain flows into Plaster Creek which is located one-half mile north of the site. 

Site Responsibility

The site is being addressed through federal, state and potentially responsible parties actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater contains various VOCs and semi-VOCs. The soil is contaminated with phthalates, VOCs, and polychlorinated biphenyls. Plaster Creek receives runoff from the site through Cole Drain. Because all residences in the area use the municipal water system, the only threat of exposure is through accidentally ingesting contaminated groundwater or by coming into direct contact with contaminated onsite soils. 

Cleanup Progress

In 1984, Chem Central designed and constructed a purge well and an under drainage system to capture contaminants seeping into the groundwater that originated from onsite. The company also constructed an air stripping system to treat the extracted groundwater for discharge into the municipal wastewater treatment system. A vapor phase carbon adsorption system treats the off-gases from the air stripping system. In addition, Chem Central excavated, removed, and disposed of contaminated soil and water from the ditch in a federally-approved facility. The empty pit was filled with clean soil. These cleanup activities were completed in 1985.

In 1987, Chem Central entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with EPA to perform an investigation to determine the extent of groundwater and surface water contamination and to also determine if any soil contamination remained. The study was completed in 1991; EPA issued a final Record of Decision.

The approved remedy included: constructing a soil vapor extraction system to treat contaminated soil; extending the current groundwater pump and treat system; and collecting oil floating in the purge wells and disposing of the collected oil offsite. The design of the remedy began in mid-1992 and was completed in 1995 under a Unilateral Administrative Order.

Construction of the remedy was completed in September 1995.   A modification to the selected groundwater cleanup was considered; which would have resulted in an extension to the groundwater collection trench.  

A Five-Year Review was completed in 1999. It determined that the remedy is still protective of human health and the environment.  Chem Central began implementing a comprehensive groundwater monitoring plan in June 1999. Results from that monitoring were used to determine the necessity of the trench extension. Based on the sampling results it was determined that an expansion of the collection system was not necessary to ensure the complete capture of the plume. 

The second five year review was completed in November 2004.  It determined that the remedy is still protective of human health and the environment.

On October 1, 2007.  Univar USA Inc. merged with Chem Central Corporation aquiring the facility and all liabilities; and changed the name of the company to Univar USA Inc.

Univar USA, Inc. conducted an optimization study at the site in 2009 and developed a groundwater bio-enhancement workplan to improve the groundwater remediation  at the site.  Univar submitted this workplan to EPA and MDEQ for review.  The enhancement plan proposed aerobic and anaerobic bioremediation for treatment of contaminated groundwater.  In 2010, the aerobic portion of the workplan was implemented.

On November 12, 2009, a third Five Year Review was completed and it determined that the remedy is still protective of human health and the environment.

In response to an EPA request in April 2011, the Univar USA, Inc. provided an IC workplan to support the long-term stewardship of the ICs at the site.  The workplan was submitted in October, 2011 and was approved by EPA in November 2011.  This plan will ensure that the existing ICs will run with the land. 

In January 2013, Univar submitted a 30% design for the anaerobic portion of the bio-enhancement plan for optimization of the site.  The RPs retracted the design plan in 2014.

On November 7, 2014, a fourth Five Year Review was completed and it determined that the remedy is still protective of human health and the environment.

Success Story

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Community Involvement

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Congressional Interest

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Property Reuse

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Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
pamela molitor (molitor.pamela@epa.gov)
(312) 886-3543





Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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