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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Celanese Acetate LLC in Narrows, Virginia

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Cleanup Status

Information continues to be reviewed to determine whether sufficient data has been gathered to support a remedy decision.

During 2011-2013, Celanese conducted investigations of soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment to assess the levels of contamination at the plant. In July 2013, Celanese submitted to EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) a Phase I/IB Data Report containing the results of investigations conducted during 2011 and 2012. EPA, with the support of VDEQ and the USACE, is reviewing the July 2013 Phase I/IB Data Report.

An accelerated investigation of three historic waste disposal areas was completed in 2012 to support a boiler reconfiguration project and to determine whether an accelerated remedy was necessary. The results of the investigation indicated the level of contamination in the waste disposal areas is acceptable for continued industrial use, but is not acceptable for hypothetical future residential use. Giles County and Celanese anticipate future use of the areas will continue solely as industrial use. The groundwater investigation conducted in 2011 and 2012 found groundwater contamination in the historic waste disposal areas local to the boiler project which exceeds USEPA Region 3 Regional Screening Levels. Based on the results of the studies, EPA, VDEQ and Celanese concluded that it is safe for the waste to remain in place, that additional groundwater monitoring is warranted, that an administrative remedy to prevent hypothetical future residential uses of the land (as long as waste remains in place) will be addressed in the future site wide Remedy Decision, that the planned construction of the boiler reconfiguration project on top of the waste will prevent precipitation infiltration through much of the area and is consistent with any future remedy necessary to protect groundwater, and a remedy to address any remaining unacceptable groundwater contamination at the area can be addressed as necessary in a future site wide Remedy Decision without disrupting operation of the reconfigured boilers.

In February 2014, Celanese submitted a package containing a summary of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) data associated with the former fire training area (SWMU 25) along with a proposal for a PCB Risk Based Assessment and Management Plan.  In April 2014, EPA transmitted comments on the plan.

Celanese submitted sampling plans between August and October, 2016, and EPA approved the sampling strategy on October 17, 2016.  Celanese  conducted  groundwater sampling surrounding the Flyash Pond A in January 2017.  During the summer of 2017, Celanese submitted the data results and a response to EPA's September 2016 comments.  Celanese is working with various agencies with hopes to close Pond A in the next year.

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Site Description

Interactive Map for Celanese Acetate LLC, Narrows, VA

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The Celanese Plant is located east of Narrows, Virginia along U.S. Route 460.  The plant is divided into two major areas separated by Route 460.  The plant area is located adjacent to the New River, and the landfill area is located on the hillside north of the plant area.  The site is characterized by a narrow, flat valley floor surrounded by relatively steep mountainous hillsides and ridge tops. 

The Celanese Plant has been in operation since late 1939 and manufactures fiber-based products.  Raw materials in the formulation of cellulose acetate are cellulose (wood pulp), acetic anhydride, acetic acid, sulfuric acid, and magnesium oxide.  In 2015, a new boiler system using natural gas with an oil backup began operation, replacing the coal fired boiler system used since 1939.  Solid wastes are managed in onsite landfills, process wastewaters are treated on-site under a VPDES permitted wastewater treatment plant, and some wastes are sent off-site for regeneration/recycling and treatment/disposal.  Celanese has completed many activities to prevent releases and exposures including waste removals, soil cap placements, and groundwater and surface water monitoring.  

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Contaminants at this Facility

The primary contaminants of concern include ammonia, metals, PCBs, organic solvents, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) compounds.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

It is anticipated that the final remedy will include institutional controls to prevent potable use of unacceptably impacted groundwater and to prevent hypothetical future residential use of unacceptably impacted land.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The facility is under continued use.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under the direction of the Virginia DEQ with assistance from the EPA Region 3.

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