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News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA, California settle with UC Regents over Davis Superfund site cleanup

10/04/2018
Contact Information: 
Soledad Calvino (calvino.maria@epa.gov)
415-972-3512

SAN FRANCISCO –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) have reached a settlement with the Regents of the University of California (University) to begin an estimated $14 million cleanup of contaminated soil, solid waste, and soil gas at the Laboratory for Energy-related Health Research/Old Campus Landfill Superfund site in Davis, Calif. Contaminants found at the site include carbon-14, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, solvents, such as chloroform, and metals, such as lead.

“This settlement is an important step toward addressing several decades’ worth of contamination at UC Davis,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “By cleaning up the site, the University is protecting public health and the environment.”

“Over the next few years, the EPA, along with the Department of Toxic Substances Control, will oversee efforts for the construction of a multi-acre protective cap," said DTSC Deputy Director of Site Mitigation and Restoration Program Mohsen Nazemi. “This protective cap and expansion of the storm water drainage system will significantly reduce the chance of water redirecting harmful substances from landfill units onto unprotected areas of land."

The site, which contains laboratory buildings and undeveloped land, covers approximately 25 acres on the University’s South Campus. Located south of Interstate 80 and east of Old Davis Road, the site is about 250 feet north of the South Fork of Putah Creek.

From the 1950s to the mid-1980s, the University and the Department of Energy conducted studies on the health effects of radiation on animals at the laboratory. In addition, from the 1940s through the mid-1960s, low-level radioactive and mixed waste from the University and laboratory research activities were disposed of at the site. 

The University assessed the risk posed by the site’s contaminated soil, solid waste, and soil gas. EPA then approved the soil cleanup plan, commonly known as a Record of Decision, in 2016. 

Under the settlement, the University will implement the site’s cleanup remedy for soil, solid waste, and soil gas, which includes:

  • Excavating and consolidating soil and solid waste;
  • Installing protective caps in areas where contaminated soils and solid waste will be stored onsite, to reduce leaching of contaminants to ground water and limit human exposure;
  • Expanding the storm water drainage system to divert water away from the soil and solid waste;
  • Implementing institutional controls, such as deed restrictions, to protect cleanup equipment, prohibit residential land use, and restrict non-residential land use; and
  • Monitoring ground water to confirm the remedy’s effectiveness.

In addition, the University will reimburse EPA and the State of California for costs related to the agencies’ ongoing and future oversight of the cleanup. The EPA is also currently evaluating ground water contamination at the site, for which a remedy will be selected in the future.

The agreement was reached under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund law, which requires parties responsible for contaminating a Superfund site to clean up the site, or reimburse the government or other parties for cleanup activities. 

The proposed consent decree for the contaminated soil, solid waste, and soil gas is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval. Information about submitting a public comment on the consent decree is available at  https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

For more information about this site and its cleanup: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/lehr.

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