Congressional District # 08
BETTER BRITE PLATING CO. CHROME AND ZINC SHOPSEPA ID# WIT560010118
Last Updated: April, 2015
The 4-acre Better Brite Plating Company Chrome and Zinc Shops (Better Brite) site is located in Brown County, Wisconsin. It is comprised of two sections of land that are divided by a residential area. The Better Brite Plating Company began operations at the Zinc Shop in the late 1960s and was primarily engaged in plating 15- to 20-foot rollers for paper mills in the area. By 1978 chrome plating operations began at the Chrome Shop, and operations at the Zinc Shop were converted to zinc plating only. Vertical in-ground dip tanks were used for chromium plating operations.
Operational practices were poor. Numerous complaints from neighbors and employees regarding spills and dumping prompted initial investigations by the Wisconsin Department of Natural resources (WDNR) in 1979. Limited site investigations and remedial efforts were conducted during the 1980s. The Better Brite Plating Company filed for bankruptcy protection and discontinued operations at the Chrome Shop in 1985, but operations continued at the Zinc Shop until 1989. Investigations found that the vertical tanks at the Chrome Shop had leaked between 20,000 and 60,000 gallons of chrome plating solution while the plant was in operation.
Local residents and the City of DePere formerly used groundwater for drinking in the vicinity of the site. The local city well was abandoned and the City of De Pere now draws its drinking water from Lake Michigan.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) placed the Better Brite site on the National Priorities List (NPL) on August 30, 1990.
Site ResponsibilityThe Better Brite site is being addressed using State and federal resources.
Threats and Contaminants
The Better Brite Plating Company used muriatic acid, sodium hypochlorite, degreasers containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chromic acid, and sodium cyanide solutions in its plating operations. Investigations showed high concentrations of chromium, zinc, cadmium, and cyanide in stored waste, surface water, and soil samples.
Contaminants migrated into the shallow groundwater where the contamination has been contained by the formation and did not reach the sandstone aquifer, which was the water source for the City of DePere and for some nearby residents. The primary groundwater contaminants have included chromium, nickel, cyanide, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene.
Potential health threats include direct contact with contaminated soil and/or plating wastes and ingestion of contaminated groundwater.
The Better Brite site consists of two separate properties: The Better Brite Zinc Shop and the Better Brite Chrome Shop. These two properties were listed as one site on the NPL due to similarities in contaminants, site history, and ownership. The primary contaminant of concern at the site is hexavalent chromium.
The imminent public health threats were addressed between 1980 and 1995 through WDNR enforcement actions and EPA removal actions. These resulted in the disposal of all containerized waste, contaminated debris, and contaminated soil; construction of fencing; placement of clean soil over the remaining contaminated soil; and construction and operation of a groundwater extraction and treatment system.
EPA signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the final remedial action on September 24, 1996 that required the following:
- Extraction and treatment of groundwater from the sump at the Zinc Shop
- Relocation of the treatment plant from the Chrome Shop to the Zinc Shop
- Stabilization of hexavalent chromium in soil and groundwater to prevent further migration
- Construction of new exterior foundation drains at two properties near the Zinc Shop and pumping collected water to the treatment facility
- Continued groundwater monitoring at the Chrome Shop and the Zinc Shop to evaluate the effectiveness of the remedial action
- Implementation of institutional controls (ICs) and site access restrictions
Cleanup work was completed in 1999-2000 and WDNR operates the water treatment system and maintains the site.
EPA completed a Five-Year Review (FYR) at the Better Brite Site in November 2014. The FYR report concluded that the remedy protects human health and the environment in the short-term. In order for the remedy to be protective in the long term, the ICs need periodic review to ensure that effective procedures are in-place for long-term stewardship and environmental monitoring must continue until remedial standards are attained.
Community InvolvementThe State of Wisconsin oversees the operation and maintenance of the Better Brite Site, and regularly interacts with community contacts.
Property ReuseUse of contaminated properties and groundwater are restricted.
ContactsRemedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
william ryan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
AliasesBETTER BRITE PLATING CHROME & ZINC
BETTER BRITE PLATING CHROME & ZINC SHOPS
BETTER BRITE CHROME: 519 LANDE ST
BETTER BRITE ZINC: 315 S 6TH ST