Plating Inc. still on EPA radar
BY DALE HOGG
The Environmental Protection Agency will begin its cleanup of the O’Neill Tank under the Superfund program this month and be done by October, Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington said.
However, he stressed this site is different from and unrelated to the contamination at the former Plating Inc. location. Both are located in the Great Bend Industrial Park at the Great Bend Municipal Airport.
The Plating Inc. issue is far from being resolved, Partington said.
Plating Inc. was chromium and zinc plating facility. The facility is surrounded by agricultural land.
The EPA reported that in 1988 the Kansas Department of Health and Environment detected soil contamination from blowers and documented that the facility had been operating without air pollution control systems. KDHE ordered the facility to address state and federal violations for the handling and storage of hazardous wastes and remove the contaminated soil.
Soil was excavated and the facility installed a chromium fume scrubber to prevent recontamination of the soil. In 1991 sampling revealed that the ground water was contaminated with chromium.
In 1994 KDHE and Plating Inc. signed an order which lead to the facility installing a shallow remedial well to contain and remediate the shallow plume. In 2002 an additional remedial well was installed. In 2005 the facility ceased operations. In 2006 KDHE discovered abandoned tanks of solutions.
Domestic water supply wells for two businesses have been impacted by the contamination and KDHE is currently providing bottled water to these businesses. A contaminated ground water plume is migrating from the facility toward the city of Great Bend. KDHE has identified three public water supply wells that are threatened by the contamination.
EPA conducted a Removal Assessment of the facility. Several thousand gallons of plating solutions will need to be removed.
Efforts to obtain a current status of the site from the EPA were unsuccessful as of presstime.
Beginning in this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a removal of contaminated soil at the O’Neill Tank Superfund Site, said Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington.
The project, being handled by the EPA’s Region 7 at 511 C St. in the Great Bend Industrial Park adjoining the Great Bend Municipal Airport, is expected to be complete by October. It is focused on addressing the release of the hazardous substance radium-226 into the environment at the 9.6-acre site.
“It’s not costing the city any money. It’s not costing the property owner any money,” Partington said. All the expense is being borne by the federal agency.
According to information from the EPA, Radium-226 is a naturally occurring radioactive material which can become concentrated due to human activities. Radium-contaminated soils and other material will be removed from the O’Neill Tank Site and replaced with clean soil. The contamination will be shipped to an approved off-site facility for disposal.
“It feels good to get this taken care of,” Partington said.
This project is unrelated to the on-going effort to remediate the former Plating Inc. site, which was contaminated by chromium.
From 1942 until 1947, the site was part of the former Great Bend Army Airfield. In 1947, it became part of the Great Bend Municipal Airport and Industrial Park and has been used for a variety of commercial purposes since then.
The site is owned by Washington Roofing, but is not in use.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment detected radium contamination at the site during a 2008 investigation, the EPA reported. Subsequent investigations by KDHE and EPA have confirmed the presence of the contamination and defined its extent.
Environmental officials is believe the contamination resulted from the storage of oil field pipe at the site, as residues that build up in oil field pipe often contain radium-226.
The levels of radium-226 detected at the site exceed EPA’s and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s health-based screening levels, and are considered to pose a risk to persons who currently work at or near the area. Without the removal action, those risks would continue, and future uses of the property could result in additional unacceptable exposures.
EPA’s removal action will address potential threats to human health and the environment that are posed by the contaminated soil and other materials at the site, Partington said.
The removal will involve the following steps:
• Identifying and removing all soils and other materials contaminated with radium-226 at levels above the health-based screening level;
• Proper disposal of all contaminated soils and materials; and,
• Backfilling excavated areas with clean soil.
Workers will be dressed in protective clothing, and there will be no disruption to normal traffic flow.
What is the Superfund?
Congress established Superfund in 1980 in response to growing concerns over human health and environmental risks posed by hazardous sites.
After a Superfund site is discovered, cleanup can fall under two programs: removal and remedial. Removal actions address immediate threats to human health and the environment posed by contamination. Remedial actions address sites that require extensive and potentially long-term cleanup.
Under the Superfund program, a site may qualify for placement on the National Priority List. The NPL is intended primarily to guide EPA in determining which sites warrant further investigation and cleanup. For a site to be included on the NPL, it has to score sufficiently high on the Hazard Ranking System). The HRS evaluates exposure pathways and the potential risk to human health and the environment.
Those sites that score high enough on the HRS are eligible for the NPL. A site that is listed on the NPL qualifies to be financed by Superfund’s Trust Fund. If a responsible party is not identified, a site cannot undergo a remedial cleanup unless it is listed on the NPL.
EPA will establish an Administrative Record for the O’Neill Tank Site. Beginning in early October, the Administrative Record will be available for public review during normal business hours at the following locations:
• Great Bend Public Library, 1409 Williams St.
• EPA Region 7 Records Center, 11201 Renner Blvd., Lenexa, Kansas 66219.
For more information, contact Belinda Young, community involvement coordinator, U.S. EPA Region 7, at 913-551-7463, 800-223-0425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.