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Congressional District # 13


EPA ID# OHD980903447
Last Updated: March, 2011

Site Description

The Republic Steel Quarry (RSQ) site 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. In 1977, the quarry and the seven surrounding acres of land were sold by Republic Steel to the city of Elyria. The site was proposed for the National Priorities List (NPL) due to the findings of heavy metals in the groundwater.

The Remedial Investigation (RI), a study to define the nature and extent of site contamination, was conducted between 1986 and 1988 and 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 health risks. 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.

Site Responsibility

This site was 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

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) conducted a streamlined remedy selection and removal action. In 1988, a Record of Decision (ROD) documenting the selected site cleanup plan was signed. The ROD led to the excavation and removal of 190 cubic yards of combined sediment and soils from the drainage ditch and hot spots around the edge of the quarry. The ROD also provided for the collection of additional groundwater monitoring and a fish and biota study. These data were to be used in a supplemental risk assessment to determine potential health risks from groundwater and fish ingestion.

The contaminated quarry sediments were left in place because these contaminants lay below the mixing zone, and fish are not likely to come in contact with the contaminants. U.S. EPA concluded that remediation 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. U.S. EPA determined it would be more prudent to conduct a detailed five-year review of the remedy prior to deleting the site. The review, completed June 26, 1998, indicated 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 fish consumption 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 portion 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. The only remaining responsible party, the city of Elyria, settled with U.S. EPA in 1996. 

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

The U.S. 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. U.S. EPA, with assistance from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), completed the second five-year review for the site on June 27, 2003. The review included sampling of groundwater and Black River surface water in early 2003. Sampling of the onsite soil, quarry sediment, surface water, and fish tissue were postponed until August, a more optimum time for fish tissue sampling. The second five-year review report indicated that there were no exposure pathways to groundwater contaminants, limited exposures to the quarry media, and that the Black River was not contaminated. The protectiveness statement was deferred, however, until the remaining data could be analyzed. Due to data quality review issues with the August 2003 data, the release of a five-year review addendum incorporating these data was delayed. The data and analyses were instead presented in the third five-year review.

The third five-year review site inspection was conducted on November 8, 2007 by U.S. EPA, OEPA and the city of Elyria. The five-year review report was issued on June 26, 2008. The review found that the remedy at the RSQ Site is protective of human health and the environment in both the short and long term. The existing ICs prohibit residential and recreational uses of the site. U.S. EPA has evidence that trespassers occasionally access the site. When the 2003 site data were analyzed with respect to trespasser risks, no unacceptable cancer and noncancer risks were documented. When compared to the 1998 five-year review risks, the risks assessed in the 2008 review have decreased, in some cases substantially. The most important pathways, i.e., fish and soil ingestion have also decreased, although not substantially.

An environmental covenant with the city of Elyria, U.S. EPA, and OEPA is planned in order to enhance the effectiveness of the remedy and provide effective long-term stewardship of the site.

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 effective ICs are currently in place and site cleanup goals have been met. There are currently no reuse issues at this site.  


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

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
patricia krause
(312) 886-9506




Site Profile Information

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


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