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Congressional District # 06


EPA ID# OHD980610018
Last Updated: September, 2014

Site Description

The Nease Chemical site is located 2.5 miles northwest of the city of Salem, Ohio, in northern Columbiana County. The old chemical plant covers approximately 44 acres and is surrounded by lightly developed land on three sides and an industrial plant to the northeast. One hundred twenty four homes are located within one mile of the site. Between 1961 and 1973, Nease Chemical produced various chemical compounds including household cleaning compounds, fire retardants, and pesticides (most notably mirex, a probable human carcinogen). During the facility's operation, hazardous substances were released to the soils and groundwater through five unlined ponds onsite that were used to treat manufacturing process waste. Contaminants were also released to the soils and groundwater when hazardous substances escaped from drums that had been buried onsite. Contamination was released to the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek (MFLBC) through surface water runoff from the ponds into creek tributaries that run through the site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) conducted investigations and inspections on and around the Nease property and documented contamination of soils, sediments, surface water, groundwater and fish along a thirty-mile reach of MFLBC. The MFLBC, its ecological corridor and associated wetlands are considered an important natural resource to this region with certain stretches designated as wild and scenic.

Site Responsibility

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

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater, soil, and waste in the former ponds are contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-VOCs. Groundwater is contaminated at levels higher than the drinking water standards, primarily with chlorinated VOCs. The primary contaminant in soil is mirex, a pesticide and fire retardant. Studies of the MFLBC showed contamination of fish, sediments, and adjacent floodplains with mirex. The Ohio Department of Health issued a health advisory against fishing and swimming along certain portions of the MFLBC in the late 1980s. Those advisories are currently under review based on more recent information. Dairy herds on a few nearby farms were also affected by mirex through exposure to creek and floodplain contamination. Access to the site and certain offsite areas are restricted by fencing and bridges. The access restictions appear effective and mirex has not subsequently been detected in dairy herds. An Endangerment Assessment completed in 2004 indicated that there are currently no unacceptable human health risks, although exposure to contaminants in the future could pose unacceptable risks.

Cleanup Progress

Nease Chemical closed the facility in 1975 pursuant to a Consent Order with Ohio EPA to address its wastewater violations. During that time, Nease voluntarily drained the ponds, removed 115 buried drums and 5,700 cubic yards of soil from two highly contaminated areas onsite, and preliminarily assessed the nature and extent of contamination. Pursuant to the Administrative Order by Consent (AOC), effective February 1988, the current site owners, Rutgers Organics Corporation, conducted a multi-phase Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) overseen by U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA. The study included: installation and seasonal monitoring of a 70-well groundwater and residential monitoring system; air monitoring, geophysical studies, extensive onsite and offsite soil and sludge sampling, pond and MFLBC tributary sediment sampling. Additional phases included in-depth studies of mirex and related compounds in fish, sediments, water and floodplain soils along the 30-mile stretch, investigation of habitats and endangered species along the MFLBC ecological corridor, and hydrogeologic investigation of Dense Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids in groundwater.

A removal AOC was signed in November 1993.  The work under the agreement was intended to address the immediate threats posed by surface water runoff and sediment migration (a major transport mechanism of mirex).    Under that agreement Rutgers installed a leachate collection and onsite treatment system, numerous sediment barriers and surface water diversion structures. Sediment studies have confirmed the effectiveness of these removal actions until they are integrated into a site-wide final remedial solution. The removal system remains in operation.

The site has been divided into operable units. U.S EPA selected a remedy for the soil, source areas, and groundwater operable unit in September 2005. The remedy includes: in place treatment of the two most contaminated former ponds by soil mixing/air stripping and stabilization/solidification; capping and covering of the former ponds and contaminated soil; extraction and treatment of shallow groundwater; in place treatment of the southern and deep groundwater by nanoscale zero-valent iron (NZVI); and long-term site management. Rutgers is currently conducting work to design the remedy, including a pilot test of the NZVI. Field testing of NZVI startedn late 2006 and continued into 2007. The results were very promising and Rutgers is working to expand to a full scale design. During 2007, a few homes near the site were evaluated for the potential that vapors from the contaminated groundwater could enter the homes. Rutgers voluntarily installed vapor mitigation sysytems on some homes to prevent this from ever happening.

Rutgers collected additional fish, sediment, and water samples in late 2005, and floodplain samples were collected in 2006. A cleanup plan for sediments and floodplains of MFLBC was selected in the fall of 2008.

EPA signed two Administrative Orders on Consent with Rutgers to design the remedies selected in the two RODs.  Remedial design activities are underway for OU2 and OU3. Federal and State trustees have reached agreeement on natural resource damage negotiations which will be included in the overall remedy settlement negotiations.  EPA is working with Rutgers to complete design work for OU2 and OU3 in anticipation of the completion of negotiations.   Negotiations are schedule to be completed early in 2015. 

Property Reuse

None of the site is currently ready for reuse. However, portions of the 44 acre former plant area will be available for reuse after the remedy for soil, source areas and goundwater is built.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
dion novak (novak.dion@epa.gov)
(312) 886-4737

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
susan pastor
(312) 353-1325




Site Profile Information

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


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