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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Fareva Richmond Incorporated (Formerly: Pfizer Health Care) in Richmond, Virginia

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Pfizer, through legacy Wyeth, entered EPA's Region 3's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action "Facility Lead Program" in September 2006 to meet RCRA Corrective Action obligations associated with the former operation of a hazardous waste storage area. Previously, the facility was enrolled in the Virginia Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) to address releases of various constituents to groundwater from the Former Plant A and its associated wastewater treatment plant at the facility. Entry into the Facility Lead Program broadened the geographic scope of the release assessment to the entire RCRA Facility. Pfizer sold the facility to Fareva in the Fall of 2011. Fareva continues to operate the facility and Pfizer continues to implement RCRA Corrective Action investigations under the Facility Lead Program with oversight by EPA.

Cleanup Status

The environmental indicator for current human exposures under control was achieved in September 2014. The environmental indicator for migration of contaminants in groundwater is under control was achieved in April 2016.

Release, Cleanup and Investigation Background

In 1992, a release to the ground of flea dip product from a vent pipe on the west wall of the Former Plant A was discovered. Impacted soil was excavated and disposed of off-site in two phases. In April 1993, soil extending approximately 8 feet west from the west wall of the former Plant A and three feet deep was excavated. In August 1993, soil extending approximately ten feet by 35 feet along the west wall to a depth of ten to 12 feet was excavated.

Following soil excavation, a 10,000 gallon underground storage tank which formerly contained isopropyl alcohol was removed from the area, and the area was backfilled, leveled, and compacted.

During the early 1990’s, a break in an underground process sewer line at the former Plant A waste water treatment plant was discovered and repaired.

In the late 1990’s, floor drains in the Plant B former Train Shed were connected to a sewer system. Prior to the connection, floor drains in the shed discharged to the subsurface soil.

In 1998, the main process sewer located north of Plant B and Building 2300 and on a west to east line parallel with Darbytown Road- continuing east to South Laburnum Road -was found to be compromised in proximity to Cornelius Creek. A new sewer line was installed along where the piping was compromised. An abandoned sewer line remains in place.

Approximately in the early 2000’s, a brick lined sump receiving Facility process wastewater directly from the main sewer line overflowed near Cornelius Creek. The sump was removed in 2003 when a new Facility process wastewater treatment plant was installed at the same area.

In 2001, the former Plant A and its accompanying waste water treatment plant, was demolished and removed. In addition, sewers associated with those operations were excavated and removed. During the demolition and removal activities, impacted soils were encountered. Impacted soils by the former Plant A waste water treatment plant were excavated. Soil samples were collected throughout the demolished Plant A area, including by the flea dip excavation area and by the former waste water treatment plant area. The analyses results detected a total of 17 constituents, including three VOCs, three SVOCs, three PAHs, and eight pesticides in soil.  Except for one pesticide, detected concentrations were less than residential screening levels. For one pesticide, a screening level does not exist.

An investigation of impact to groundwater was conducted. Initial results detected elevated concentrations of contaminants in groundwater in the area of former Plant A and its accompanying former wastewater treatment plant. Subsequent investigations were conducted to determine the nature and extent of the groundwater contamination. Overall, twenty-five groundwater monitoring wells were installed from 2001 to 2012. Groundwater samples were collected from subsets of wells periodically through to 2014. Contamination was found in groundwater extending east and southeast of Building 2300 and extending to the southeast property boundary on Darbytown Road.  In 2006 and 2007, 14 inorganic constituents were detected in sampled groundwater monitoring wells. Of these, maximum concentrations of nine inorganic constituents exceeded tap water screening criteria and the maximum concentration of one constituent, mercury, exceeded vapor intrusion screening criteria. From 2010 to 2014, 80 organic constituents, including 41 VOCs, three SVOCs, 18 PAHs, 13 pesticides, and five TICs, were detected in sampled groundwater monitoring wells. Of these, maximum concentrations of six VOCs, one SVOC, four PAHs, and seven pesticides exceeded tap water screening criteria and maximum concentrations of five VOCs exceeded vapor intrusion screening criteria.  Additionally, at minimum, approximately eight “unknown” VOC TICs and seven “unknown” SVOC TICs were detected in sampled groundwater monitoring wells.

In 2001, an upstream extension to the main sewer line (AOC 4/5) that runs beneath Plant B was determined to be degraded and required replacement. Plant production was halted, the degraded sewer was line was excavated, and visibly impacted soils were excavated and disposed at an off-site facility.

Additionally in 2001, after finding significant breaks, a sewer line extending north from the rear of the Plant B structure was replaced. Abandoned sewer line remains in place.

In 2002, oil was released from a utility building when a gauge broke. Impacted soil was removed to a depth of two to three feet below the ground surface and a temporary sump was installed to collect additional fuel drainage. Soil confirmation samples following the excavation showed that the level of total petroleum hydrocarbons was below 100 parts per million. Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ) has issued a closure letter for the release.

In September 2005, approximately 20 feet of the main process sewer line carrying both sanitary and process water and located north of Plant B and Building 2300 experienced a break. The line was repaired and the ground was treated with lime.

A survey conducted in early 2006 identified further areas of compromised piping. Additionally it was noted that the main process sewer line located north of Plant B and Building 2300 running for 1/3 mile on a west to east line parallel with Darbytown Road experienced a number of breaks and spot repairs over 18 years. As a result, Wyeth installed approximately 2000 linear feet of new sewers. Abandoned sewer line remains in place.

Around the same time period, approximately 160 linear feet of sewer below a mixing room in the southwest corner of Plant B was found to be compromised.

In 2008 and in 2009, investigations were conducted by Pfizer to identify releases at the Facility. The locations which were sampled included sediment in Cornelius Creek, soil and groundwater near where the process waste water sump overflowed by the Creek [Area of Concern (AOC) 1], soil and groundwater proximate to where breaks had occurred in the main sewer line that extended from north of Plant B to northeast of Building 2300 (AOC 4/5), groundwater downgradient of the former mixing room in the southwest corner of Plant B, and subsurface soil and groundwater throughout the Laburnum Avenue Farm Field.

Sediment in Cornelius Creek contained 23 constituents, including three VOCs, 10 PAHs, and 10 pesticides. For human exposures, except for one PAH, detected concentrations were less than residential screening levels. For one PAH, benzo(a)pyrene, the maximum detected concentration exceeded its residential screening level but was less than its industrial screening level. For ecological exposure, maximum detected concentrations of three (3) VOCs and six (6) PAHs exceeded ecological screening levels but were less than baseline levels of potential ecological concern.

At an area near the process waste water sump overflow (AOC 1), 45 constituents, including seven VOCs, two SVOCs, 18 PAHs, and 18 pesticides were detected in soil. Except for three PAHs, detected concentrations were less than residential screening levels. For three PAHs, maximum detected concentrations exceeded residential screening levels but were less than industrial screening levels. A risk assessment found exposure risk at the sampled soil area is acceptable for residents, site workers, construction workers, utility workers and adolescent trespassers.

At sampled locations along or by the sewer line breaks (AOC 4/5), nine constituents including including two VOCs, one SVOC, and six pesticides, were detected in soil. All detected concentrations were less than residential screening levels.

At four groundwater monitoring wells installed south of the southwest corner of Plant B, 35 constituents, including 14 VOCs, four SVOCs, four PAHs, eleven pesticides, and two TICs were detected in groundwater. Of these, maximum concentrations of one VOC, two SVOCs, one PAH, and four pesticides exceeded tap water screening levels and the maximum concentration of one VOC exceeded its vapor intrusion screening level. Diesel fuel and gasoline also were detected. Additionally, at minimum, approximately one “unknown” VOC TIC, and four “unknown” SVOC TICs were detected.

In ten groundwater monitoring wells installed at the former Laburnum Farm Field east of Cornelius Creek, a total of eight organic constituents, including one VOC, four SVOCs and three pesticides, were detected. Of these, the maximum concentration of one pesticide exceeded its tap water screening level.

In 2010, a sub-slab vapor investigation was conducted below Building 2300 when the building was operating under positive pressure. A total of 37 constituents, including 21 VOCs, one SVOC, and 15 tentatively identified compounds (TICs) were detected. The detected concentrations of the 21 VOCs and one SVOC were less than residential vapor intrusion screening levels for soil gas. Of the 15 TICs, six were classified as “unknown”.

In 2012, surface soil samples were collected at the Laburnum Avenue Farm Field. At sampled surface soil and subsurface soil locations in Laburnum Avenue Farm Field in 2008 and 2012, 36 constituents, including five VOCs, three SVOCs, 11 PAHs, and 17 pesticides, were detected. All detected concentrations were less than residential screening levels.

In early 2014, Pfizer notified EPA of the potential for release to the environment associated additional areas, including former forklift maintenance operations which were conducted at the Building 2300 Rail Spur Loading Dock until the early 2000’s.. 

In 2016, surface soil along the inactive rail spur and the Building 2300 Rail Spur Loading Dock was sampled and analyzed for PCBs.  No PCBs were detected.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Fareva Richmond Incorporated, Richmond, Virginia


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The facility property is approximately 300 acres and is located southeast of Richmond. Two primary buildings currently are located at the facility: Plant B was constructed in 1980 and is a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. Building 2300 was constructed in the 1970’s and an addition was added in 1999.  Uses of Building 2300 include former use as a distribution center. Building 2300 now is used to manufacture aerosols. Throughout operations, laboratories have existed at both Plant B and Building 2300. Past industrial operations at the property include the manufacture of pet pesticide products (flea collars, etc.) and over-the-counter medicinal products (as well as a quality control/quality assurance laboratory) at the Former Plant A, which was constructed in 1975 and demolished in 2001. An inactive farm is located on Facility property that is east of Cornelius Creek and west of Laburnum Avenue. The surrounding area includes properties zoned for residential, industrial, and agricultural use. A residential development is being constructed immediately south of the facility..

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Contaminants at this Facility

Chloroform is the most widespread contaminant detected in shallow groundwater. Additional contaminants of concern include 1,1,2,2 tetrachloroethane, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE) and benzo(a)pyrene. Existing data indicate additional data is needed to demonstrate concentrations of these contaminants in shallow groundwater are acceptable for tap water exposure. There is no current or projected use of the groundwater for drinking water at the site.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

The final remedy will include institutional controls to prevent unacceptable exposures on the portion of the property associated with industrial use.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The property was sold to Fareva, a European-based contract manufacturing company, in the Fall, 2011. Under agreement of the sale, Pfizer retains responsibility for corrective action.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under the direction of the EPA Region 3 with assistance from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

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