United States
                 Environmental Protection
                  Solid Waste and
                  Emergency Response
                                       Spring 1993
 » EPA     Superfund At Work
                 Hazardous Waste Cleanup Efforts Nationwide
 A chrome plating plant located in
 an Industrial park in western
 Site Size: 2.5 acres
 Primary Contaminant:
 Hexavatent chromium
 Potential Range of Health Risks:
 tntestina!, Bvtr, tftf Mdrwy
 contaminated water
 Nearby Population Affected:
              "      '
        Chrome Waste Removed from Ground Water
 water placed
 in treatment
Success In Brief

A Chrome-Plated Success

at Supeifund Site in Oregon

  The United Chrome Products site in Corvallis, Oregon posed a
significant environmental threat until the U. S. Environmental Protec-
tion Agency (EPA) performed comprehensive cleanup actions. Under
the Superfund program, EPA reduced the risk of chromium contami-
nation to the local community and environment by:
• Removing contaminated soil, structures, tanks, and various hazard-
  ous wastes; and
• Removing 30,000 pounds of chromium from ground water, thereby
  reducing the level of contamination by 98 percent, and preventing
  any further migration.
  In addition, EPA negotiated a significant cost recovery to reimburse
the Superfund for $2 million in cleanup costs and to operate on-site
treatment facilities. The United Chrome Products site cleanup illus-
trates Superfund's ability to act quickly and to negotiate equitable
settlements with private parties.

                             The Site Today
                               EPA eliminated immediate
                             threats to the surrounding com-
                             munity through its comprehen-
                             sive cleanup efforts. Removal of l
                             the surface contaminants has
                             prevented further migration of  *
                             chromium into the ground water,
                             while an extraction and treatment
                             plant continues to remove chro-
                             mium in the ground water.
                               Cleanup goals for ground
                             water are expected to be met
                             before 1998, when the site should
                             be suitable for industrial use.
Chemical solution added,
causing chromium particles
    to precipitate into
    sludge at tank bottom
                                         Water transferred
                                         to city wastewater
                                         treatment facility
                                         Chromium particle
                                         sludge removed
                                         for proper disposal
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 5, Library (PL-12J)
77 West Jackson Boulevard, 12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604-3590

                 Superfund At Work
                 United Chrome, Corvallis, Oregon
             A Site Snapshot
  The United Chrome Prod-      Wastes from the hard
ucts site covers two and a half    chrome plating operations,
acres in an industrial park next   improperly stored and dis-
to the Corvallis Municipal       posed of for nearly thirty
Airport, south of the City of     years, caused extensive soil
mately 42,000
people live
within three
miles of the
site, with the
closest resi-
dence just 900 ~^^^^^—
feet to the northeast.
  From 1956 to 1985, United
Chrome Products manufac-
tured and repaired sawmill
equipment on property leased
from the City of Corvallis.
Hexavalent chromium,
the form of chromium
     produced in
  plating operations,
     can be toxic
in high concentrations
              and ground
              the form of
^^^^^™a^™ left behind
 from the electroplating process,
 is a heavy metal which is toxic
 in high concentrations, and
 can cause liver, intestinal, and
 kidney problems if ingested.
 Spring 1993 —^-^——^—-^—



 Team Effort:

Evidence of Chromium
Contamination Surfaces
  In 1977, the City of Corvallis
detected evidence of chromium
contamination at the site. United
Chrome Products admitted that
between 1960 and 1977 it dis-
charged an unknown quantity of
chrome plating waste liquids and
sludge into a 15-foot dry well on
the property, which was a major
source of the contamination.
  In 1982, some of the accumu-
lated sludges at the site were
removed and disposed of under
the guidance of Oregon's
Department of Environmental
United Chrome
Products Timeline
                                      evidence of chromium
                                                       United Chrome Products removes and \
                                                          *liiw**vi**",J* A.i AjujLmaAj A*cljfltJil Mk&u&wufcj*  N
                  Superfund At Work
      United Chrome, Corvalhs, Oregon
 Spring 1993
   EPA, City, and State Work Together
   To Clean Up United Chrome Products Site
Quality (DEQ). Another cleanup
took place in 1983, when DEQ
ordered the company to remove
and drum chrome sludges from

   "(A)nywhere water fell
      it turned yellow
         or orange"
   indicating the presence
        of chromium,
       according to a
   Superfund investigator

a disposal pit and send the waste
to an approved hazardous waste
Congress Enacts Superfund
  United Chrome Products was
just one of hundreds of industrial
problem sites that had gained
national attention during the late
1970s. In 1980, Congress re-
sponded by passing legislation
that created the Superfund pro-
gram, empowering EPA to clean
up America's worst hazardous
waste sites. In 1983, under this
new program, EPA began in-
vestigating possible chromium
contamination at the site.
  EPA's field investigation in late
1983 confirmed chromium con-
tamination in the soil, surface
      United Chrome Products
      \    Corvallis, OR
water, and shallow ground water
around the plant. Chromium
levels in the soil and ground
water were many times higher
than national safety standards
permitted. While examining the
            continued on page 4

                      Superfund At Work   •  United Chrome, Corvallis, Oregon  •   Spring 1993
  Agencies Work Together to Clean Up Site
                                                                The Problem's Source This acid
                                                                washing tank from United Chrome
                                                                Products shows corrosion and seepage
                                                                marks, as do drums in the background.
                                                                Poor handling and on-site disposal of the
                                                                chemicals from the plating process led to
                                                                the contamination of soil and ground
                                                                water at the site.
continued from page 3
United Chrome Products site,
investigators recorded high
concentrations of chromium
residue throughout the building.
One Superfund investigator
noted that "anywhere water fell it
turned yellow or orange," indicat-
ing the presence of chromium.
Results of the field investigation
placed United Chrome Products
on Superfund's National Priori-
ties List (NPL) in 1984. The NPL is
a roster of the nation's most
serious abandoned or uncon-
trolled hazardous waste sites.

EPA Begins Cleanup
As United Chrome Products
Goes Out Of Business
  From November 1984 to July
1985, EPA investigated and
prepared a report evaluating the
nature and extent of contamina-
tion, as well as the potential for
chromium reaching the underly-
ing ground water. In January
1985, DEQ fined United Chrome
Products $6,000 for "negligent
and sloppy operating practices"
Salem (Oregon) Statesman/Journal.
Later that year, United Chrome
Products folded, with no plans to
pay for the site cleanup.

        EPA mobilized
         to eliminate
       immediate risks
      posed by the site
  Shortly after United Chrome
Products' closure, EPA mobilized
to eliminate the immediate risks
posed by the site. Between July
and November 1985, Superfund
workers removed 8,130 gallons of
chromium-contaminated liquids
and 11,000 pounds of chromium-
contaminated solids. These ac-
tions diminished the immediate
threats posed by surface contami-
nants, while EPA investigators
continued their evaluation of the
site to determine the necessary
long-term cleanup measures.

EPA Works With Community
and Local Officials to Design
Satisfactory Cleanup
  At a public forum in August
1985, EPA presented several
cleanup options to the local
community, the City of Corvallis,
and the State of Oregon for com-
ment. EPA's preferred option
called for demolishing two heavily
contaminated sections of the
United Chrome Products build-
ing, and disposing of the debris
and underlying soil at a hazard-
ous waste facility. EPA would
infiltrate clean water into underly-
ing soil to flush out contamina-
tion, extract contaminated ground
water, treat the water, and releas^
it into a nearby creek.
              continued on page 6
                                             Page 4

                  Superfund At Work
      United Chrome, Corvallis, Oregon
 Spring 1993
          Insight Into the Manufacturing Process:
              Chrome Plating at United Chrome
  When people think of
chrome, they often imagine
shining hub caps, tools, and
household fixtures. Chromium
is used extensively in industry
as a protective and decorative
   , .     coating for metal
         parts. A chrome-
        • plated metal part
 '. ':.( " will be shinier and
       more wear-resistant
than an uncoated one. United
Chrome carried out only indus-
trial hard chrome plating at its
Corvallis plant.
  The chrome plating process
is fairly simple. The metal
object to be plated is placed in a
tank containing a solution of
water, chromic acid, and sulfu-
ric acid.
  A negative electrode is
attached to the object, while a
positive electrode is attached to
an insoluble piece of metal also
in the tank. When an electric
current is run through the two
metal objects, chromium con-
tained in the chromic acid
becomes positively charged
and bonds to the negatively
charged object in the tank -
building up the chrome plate.
  Chromium is found in
nature in two common  forms,
hexavalent and bivalent.
Hexavalent chromium (Cr+6),
which causes liver, kidney, and
intestinal disease if ingested
over a long time period, is far
more toxic than trivalent chro-
mium (G*3).
  Trivalent chromium is the
shiny metal chrome we see coat-
ing the finished products. Toxic
hexavalent chromium is a by-
product of the chrome-plating
process found in the wastewater
left behind.
wastes from their chrome-
plating operations were
dumped into a pit behind their
plant. It was hexavalent chro-
mium that eventually leached
into the soil and underlying
ground water causing extensive
  United Chrome plated parts     contamination and requiring a
and tools for the lumber industry,  comprehensive, long-term
For decades, chrome leaked from   cleanup.
their plating tanks, and liquid
       The Chrome Plating Process
   Plating tank contains a
   solution of water, chromic
   acid, and sulfuric acid
                      A negative
                      electrode is
                      attached to the
                      object to be
                      plated (here, a
                      saw blade)
           A positive electrode
           is attached to a
           piece of metal
           suspended in the
        At United Chrome Products,
        wastewater with toxic
        hexavalent chromium
        leaked out through cracks
        in plating tanks
                                         Page 5

                     Superfund At Work
      United Chrome, Corvallis, Oregon
 Spring 1993
  Agencies Work Together to Clean Up Site...
continued from page 4
  After reviewing the proposal,
city and state officials were not
satisfied with the scope of EPA's
preferred cleanup method. They
favored a more thorough ap-
proach featuring the removal of a
greater volume of soil and a more
comprehensive ground water
  Local farmers also voiced
concern about the plan because it
would release treated water into a
creek used for crop irrigation.
After extensive meetings and
discussions with state and city
officials in September 1986, EPA
agreed to perform the more
comprehensive cleanup favored
by the community.
  Over the next year, engineers
designed the cleanup system. The
remaining chromium-
contaminated soil would be
flushed clean by percolation
basins constructed on site.
  The proposed ground water
extraction and treatment system
would pump contaminated
ground water to a plant at the site.
The following steps would then
be taken:
  (1) contaminated water would
     be sent to a holding tank;
  (2) chemicals would be added
     to adjust the pH level and
     settle out the chromium;
  (3) the resulting partially
     treated water would be
     routed to the City of
     Corvallis wastewater
     treatment plant for further
     treatment; and
  (4) chromium sludge in the
     bottom of the treatment
     tanks would be disposed
     of at an approved hazard-
     ous waste site.
  Extraction wells would be used
to draw up water for treatment
from both the shallow ground
water zone and the deep aquifer.

 Discolored and corroded drums of industrial waste were found at the United Chrome
 Products site. As part of the cleanup, Superfund personnel removed over 1,000 tons of
 contaminated waste, debris and soil.
                                                5  ^——_
EPA Proceeds With
Long-Term Cleanup
  EPA began constructing the
ground water remedy in 1987.
However, the source of the con-
tamination had to be eliminated
before the ground water cleanup
could be effective. Cleanup crews
first decontaminated and demol-
ished the United Chrome Prod-
ucts building.
  Next, Superfund personnel
removed over 1,000 tons of debris
and heavily contaminated soil

    Superfund personnel
       removed about
   1,000 tons of debris and
  heavily contaminated soil

from the former disposal pit and
plating tank areas. These wastes
were disposed of at a federally
regulated hazardous waste
facility. Between 1987 and 1988,
EPA also constructed the percola-
tion basins to flush contaminated
soil, built the on-site ground
water treatment plant, and in-
stalled shallow extraction wells.
  Monitoring of both the shallow
and deep ground water aquifers
below the site revealed that
contamination was more exten-
sive than originally estimated.
Superfund workers drilled sev-
eral more extraction wells,
covering a wider area, to ad-
dress the more extensive chro-
mium contamination. They also
added water injection wells to
the system.
   These wells pumped clean
water into deeper ground water
areas to prevent contaminated

                     Superfund At Work  •  United Chrome, Corvallis, Oregon   •  Spring 1993
  EPA Negotiates Equitable Settlement With City
 ground water from flowing from
 the shallow to the deeper areas.
 The additional wells improved
 the performance of the system
 and further reduced the risk of
 chromium migrating into ground
 water and contaminating local
 drinking water sources. EPA
 workers also rerouted a surface
 drainage ditch to divert drainage
 around the site and prevent
 contaminated water from flow-
 ing off site.
   In addition to these cleanup
 measures, an alternate water
 supply was provided to the
 airport area prior to construction
 of the ground water cleanup
 system in 1987

 Ground Water Cleanup
 A Success
   Although the extensive chro-
 mium contamination requires a
 long-term cleanup, as of early
 1993 the ground water treatment
 plant has removed approximately

    Corvallis' operation of
  the water treatment plant
    considerably reduced
        cleanup costs

30,000 pounds of chromium from
the ground water. As a result,
chromium levels have dropped
significantly and the contamina-
tion has been contained.
  To date, average chromium
concentrations in the ground
water have been reduced by 98
 percent — from approximately
 2,000 parts per million to approxi-
 mately 36 parts per million since
 the plant began operating. Given
 the past performance of the plant,
 the cleanup goal of returning the
 deep ground water to national
 drinking water standards, and the
 shallow ground water to a level
 protective of the deeper water,
 should be met by 1998.

 Superfund Enforcement
 Proves Flexible and Fair
   With surface contami-
 nants removed and
 the ground water
 cleanup moving
 forward, EPA focused
 its efforts on making the
 responsible parties pay for
 the cleanup. The Agency
 thoroughly investigated
 the company and its owners in
 an attempt to obtain a settlement,
 but that was unsuccesful. This
 situation forced EPA to negotiate
 a settlement with the City of
 Corvallis which, as the owner of
 the land upon which the site is
 located, was also liable for the
 United Chrome Products cleanup.
  From the outset, the city dis-
 played a willingness to participate
 in the cleanup process, but consis-
 tently maintained it was not liable
 for the entire site cleanup.
 Corvallis aided the cleanup by
 operating the ground water
extraction and treatment plant
from the time it was built.
   This contribution reduced
 cleanup costs considerably, since
 the city's municipal workers were
 able to operate the plant much
 more economically than a private
 contractor. Rather than force
 Corvallis to pay the entire
 cleanup bill, the Agency sought
 to negotiate an equitable settle-
 ment with the city.
   In June 1992, EPA, the U.S.
 Department of Justice, the State
       of Oregon, and the City of
        Corvallis signed an
          agreement whereby
            the city would pay
             EPA $2 million
              over seven years
                to help defray
                 some of
               and cleanup
           costs. This agree-
       ment ended years of
  negotiation over who would
bear the cleanup costs and allevi-
ated the city's concerns that it
would be forced to pay the entire
$8.6 million cleanup bill.
   Shortly after the settlement was
announced, a local newspaper
declared, "EPA Settlement on
Toxic Cleanup Good for
Corvallis." The settlement also
calls for the city to continue
operating the ground water
treatment plant until cleanup
goals are met.
                                                        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                                                        Region 5, Library (PL-12J)
                                                        77 West Jackson Boulevard, 12th Floor
                                                        Chicago, IL  60604-3590

                    Superfund At Work
      United Chrome, Corvallis, Oregon
Spring 1993
Community Involvement
Plays Role at Site
  Another Superfund priority is
getting the community involved
at every stage of a cleanup.
Throughout the cleanup process
at the United Chrome Products
site, EPA made every effort to
keep Corvallis' residents and
officials up to date on the latest
site developments. Toward this
end, Superfund staff provided
information for numerous news-
paper articles and distributed site
fact sheets.
  These activities were especially
important during the selection of
the ground water treatment
method, for which community
input was considered by EPA.
   Ultimately, EPA chose the
cleanup option favored by city
and state officials and addressed
local farmers' concern about the
on-site treatment plant's discharge.
   This dialogue and cooperative
relationship between EPA and
the affected community illus-
trates the Agency's commitment
to keeping local residents in-
formed and involved during the
cleanup process.
   If you wish to be added to our mailing list or to comment on this bulletin's content, length
    or format, please call (703) 603-8984 or send a letter to Superfund At Work (5502G),
                 401 M Street SW, Washington, DC  20460.
     Success at



   EPA, working coopera-
tively with state and local
officials, effectively eliminated
the immediate risk of contami-
nation by removing surface
contaminants and providing
dean drinking water.
   Levels of chromium con-
tamination in the ground
water have already been
reduced by 98 percent by the
on-site treatment plant, and
cleanup will continue until
national drinking water
standards are met.
   Additionally, the success-
ful cleanup of the United
Chrome site illustrates
Superfund's commitment to
fairness when seeking to
recover its cleanup costs.
          For additional copies of this or other Superfund At Work updates, contact the National Technical Information Service,
              U.S. Department of Commerce, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161, telephone (703) 487-4650
 United States Environmental Protection Agency
 Washington, D.C. 20460

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