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Congressional District # 13


EPA ID# OHD980903447
Last Updated: March, 2015

Site Description

The Republic Steel Quarry (RSQ) Superfund site is located near the Black River in Elyria, Ohio, and consists of a five-acre quarry containing water and seven acres of fenced land surrounding the quarry.  From 1950 to 1975, the Republic Steel Corporation discharged about 200,000 gallons per day of waste pickle liquor and rinse water, consisting of sulfuric acid and dissolved metal oxides, into the quarry via a ditch.  Groundwater beneath the site was later found to contain heavy metal contamination.

In 1977, the quarry and the seven surrounding acres of land were sold by Republic Steel to the city of Elyria.  Both the quarry and the Black River, which borders the site on the east, are used for recreational purposes such as swimming and fishing. Drinking water is currently supplied to surrounding residents via the Elyria municipal water supply system.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to place the RSQ site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in October 1984 and the site was placed on the NPL in June 1986.

Site Responsibility

The Republic Steel Quarry (RSQ) site is being addressed through federal and state actions.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater and quarry surface water were contaminated with heavy metals such as beryllium, cadmium, and manganese.  Other metals in the groundwater and surface water included barium, iron, and copper. Quarry sediments were contaminated with volatile organic compounds, carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic PAHs, heavy metals, and phthalates. Heavy metals and PAHs were also contaminants of concern in the site soils.

Significant health risks could result from ingestion and or direct contact with contaminated groundwater, surface water, soil, or quarry sediments.  These risks are currently being controlled by implemented remedial actions.

Cleanup Progress

EPA conducted a streamlined remedy selection and removal action at the RSQ site. The Remedial Investigation (RI), a study to define the nature and extent of site contamination, was conducted between 1986 and 1988 and results indicated that all contamination caused by past disposal practices were limited to quarry sediments, the pickle liquor discharge ditch, and several soil locations around the quarry's edge. Carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals posed the greatest potential health risks.

In 1988, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) that documented the selected site cleanup plan. Under the ROD, 190 cubic yards of combined sediment and soils from the drainage ditch and "hot spots" around the edge of the quarry would be excavated and removed. The ROD also required additional groundwater monitoring and a fish and biota study. These data were later used in a supplemental risk assessment to determine potential health risks from groundwater and fish ingestion. EPA completed the cleanup work in 1992.

The contaminated quarry sediments were left in place because they lay below the mixing zone, and fish are not likely to come in contact with the contaminants. EPA concluded that any cleanup action would likely entrain contaminated sediments in the water, thereby increasing the likelihood of exposure to contaminants by fish. The studies confirmed that no unacceptable risks were present at the time.  The preliminary close out report, documenting completion of major cleanup activities, was issued on December 31, 1992.

EPA completed a five-year review (FYR) of the remedy in June 1998 and found that no unacceptable risks from chemical contaminants existed at the site under current use (casual trespassing) conditions; however, regular use of the quarry via swimming or consuming fish would present unacceptable risks. Chemical and physical hazards currently at the site were to be addressed by improving the fencing and increasing the frequency of security inspections. The review also recommended continued periodic monitoring of quarry surface water, quarry fish tissue, and the groundwater. The screening level ecological risk assessment indicated that no adverse ecological impacts had been sustained from the site. Because the anticipated future land use was not residential, no unacceptable future risks from contaminants were expected. 

In September 2001, EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) to the ROD. This document explained major changes in the selected cleanup plan. The ESD required the addition of institutional controls (ICs) to the site remedy since contaminants were left in place in some areas. The city of Elyria cooperated with EPA's request to incorporate specific and enforceable land-use restrictions for the site into its municipal code. In July 2002, Elyria passed a Declaration of Restrictions, authorized by city ordinance number 2002-119. The restriction provide greater site security and prohibit the commercial and residential use of the property, use of the groundwater for potable water, and use of the quarry for swimming or fishing. The restrictions also require that the Elyria municipal water supply be the sole drinking water supply. 

EPA finalized the deletion of the RSQ site from the NPL on November 12, 2002, after receiving concurrence from the state of Ohio and no public comments on the proposal for deletion.

EPA, with assistance from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), completed the second FYR for the site on June 27, 2003. The review included sampling of groundwater and Black River surface water in early 2003. Sampling of the on-site soil, quarry sediment, surface water, and fish tissue were postponed until August, a more optimum time for fish tissue sampling. The second FYR report indicated that there were no exposure pathways to groundwater contaminants, limited exposure to the quarry media, and that the Black River is not contaminated. A comprehensive protectiveness statement was deferred at the time until the remaining data could be analyzed. The data and analyses were presented in the subsequent third FYR report.

The third FYR inspection was conducted on November 8, 2007 by EPA, Ohio EPA, and the city of Elyria. EPA issued the third FYR report on June 26, 2008. The review found that the remedy at the RSQ site is protective of human health and the environment over both the short and long term. The existing ICs prohibit residential and recreational uses of the site. EPA has evidence that trespassers occasionally access the site, particularly during the summer months. When the 2003 site data were analyzed with respect to trespasser risks, no unacceptable cancer and noncancer risks were documented. When compared to the risks documented in the 1998 FYR, the risks assessed in the 2008 review had decreased, in some cases substantially. The most important exposure pathways, fish and soil ingestion, also showed decreased risks, although not as substantially.

EPA completed the fourth FYR at the RSQ site on March 22, 2013. As with the previous FYR report, the fourth review determined that the remedy at the site is protective of human health and the environment. There are no current exposure pathways to groundwater contaminants and no significant risk from exposure to quarry sediments, soils or fish tissue under circumstances of occasional or seasonal trespassing and/or recreational use.  Institutional controls have been implemented that prohibit any future use of the site except for heavy industry.  Although trespassers occasionally access the site, no unacceptable site-related health risks due to contaminants would be anticipated or have been documented. The maintenance of the site access controls (perimeter fence and warning signs) should be improved to better discourage trespassing.

EPA plans to complete the next FYR for the RSQ site in March 2018.

Property Reuse

A site-wide ready for anticipated use (SWRAU) determination was made for the site in January 2008. The RSQ site meets the criteria for this determination because ICs are currently in place and site cleanup goals have been met. The city of Elyria would like to reuse portions of the site, although it currently has no specific site reuse plan.


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
sheila sullivan (sullivan.sheila@epa.gov)
(312) 886-5251

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
virginia narsete
(312) 886-4359




Site Profile Information

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


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