Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
United Heckathorn Co.
EPA #: CAD981436363
County: Contra Costa
Congressional District: 07
Other Names: Levin Richmond/Parr Canal Site
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 10/26/89
Final Date: 03/14/90
The United Heckathorn Superfund site is located in Richmond Harbor, an inlet of San Francisco Bay, in Contra Costa County, CA. It includes five acres of land and about 15 acres of marine sediments in two channels (Lauritzen and Parr) of Richmond Harbor. From 1947 through 1966, several companies, including R.J. Prentiss, Heckathorn and Company, United Heckathorn, United Chemetrics, and Chemwest Inc. used the site to formulate, package, and ship pesticides. No chemicals were manufactured on site. Heckathorn would receive technical grade pesticides from chemical manufacturers, grind them in air mills, mix them with other ingredients such as clays or solvents, and package them for final use in liquid or powder form. Although many pesticides were handled at United Heckathorn, dichlorodiphenyl trichloroethane (DDT) accounted for approximately 95 percent of Heckathorn's operations. United Heckathorn went bankrupt in 1966. By 1970, the facility buildings had been demolished and cleared from the site. The Levin-Richmond Terminal Corporation purchased the site in 1981 and currently operates a marine shipping terminal at the location of the former United Heckathorn facility. Although this is an industrial area, approximately 10,900 people live within one mile of the site.
During United Heckathorn's operation, regulatory agencies occasionally inspected the facility. During a site visit in 1960, the Bay Area Regional Water Quality Control Board observed bulk storage of pesticides and solvents, leaking solvent pump lines, spills, and waste discharges. Subsequently, the California Department of Fish and Game discovered dead fish in the Lauritzen Channel and, on a separate inspection, it observed a milky liquid emanating from the site into the Lauritzen Channel. In 1980, the California Department of Health Services inspected and sampled the site as part of the Abandoned Site Project. Chlorinated pesticides and metals were detected in soil samples, and the area was designated a State Superfund site in March 1982. In March 1990, U.S. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List, and in August of that year assumed lead agency status. Remedial actions at the site took place from 1990 through 1999. They included excavation of heavily contaminated areas, dredging of Lauritzen Channel and Parr Canal, and construction of a cap over 4-1/2 acres of the site. Post-remediation monitoring found that unacceptably high levels of pesticides remain in Lauritzen Channel. EPA conducted additional investigation to determine the source and extent of the remaining contamination from 2002 - 2007. EPA conducted fish sampling in the Lauritzen channel and adjacent areas in Summer 2008.
Contaminants and Risks
- Surface Water
- Soil and Sludges
- Environmentally Sensitive Area
Although actions were taken to reduce the risk from the pesticides found on site (see next section, "Cleanup Approach"), sediments and the water in the Lauritzen Channel are still contaminated with pesticides, primarily DDT and dieldrin. Levels are high enough to pose a threat to wildlife who feed in or around the water. Since these pesticides bioaccumulate in fish, people who subsistence fish in the area run the risk of exposure to unacceptably high levels of DDT and dieldrin. Because of this, the state of California issued an advisory against eating fish from the Lauritzen Channel. The advisory is still in effect.
Who is Involved
This site is being addressed through Federal, State, and potentially responsible parties' actions.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
This site was addressed in three stages: immediate actions and a long-term remedial phase focusing on cleanup of the sediments and then the soils. The immediate actions consisted of excavation of highly contaminated on-site soils. Long-term actions included dredging the channels to remove contaminated sediments and then capping about 4-1/2 acres of land to prevent erosion and exposure to residual levels of pesticides in soils.
Immediate Actions: Under a Unilateral Order issued by the EPA in September 1990, the potentially responsible parties removed approximately 1,450 cubic yards of pesticide residue and contaminated soil from the shoreline to the foundation of the former Heckathorn Building 1. Another 1,800 cubic yards of pesticide residue and contaminated soil were excavated in April 1991. A final soil removal action occurred in 1993. Excavated material contained as much as 100 percent DDT.
Entire Site: In 1994, the EPA completed investigations that determined the nature and extent of contamination at the site. Based on the results of this investigation, late in 1994 the EPA recommended dredging marine sediments that are contaminated with DDT and dieldrin and shipping them to an approved disposal facility. EPA recommended capping the area of the former facility with an impermeable barrier to prevent erosion and exposure to residual amounts of pesticides in soils.
Dredging of Parr Canal and Lauritzen Channel occurred from August 1996 to March 1997. Approximately 2,620 cubic yards of sediment were removed from Parr Canal in August 1996. Dredging of Lauritzen Channel proved more difficult because of the extensive amount of debris found in the channel. Approximately 187 tons of salvaged metal were retrieved from the channel in addition to the 105,000 cubic yards of sediment. In April 1997, both channels were sampled to confirm that the bulk of the contaminated sediments had been removed. Before remediation, median total DDT concentration was 47,000 ug/kg at the head of Lauritzen Channel and 840 ug/kg at Parr Canal; after remediation, the average DDT concentrations were 263 ug/kg in Lauritzen Channel and 200 ug/kg in Parr Canal. After dredging, clean sand was applied across the bottom of both channels to assist with re-establishment of benthic organisms.
The upland 4-1/2 acre area of the site was capped. Cap installation occurred in three steps: site grading to promote surface run-off to collection points; installation of a drainage system to collect surface run-off; and construction of a reinforced concrete cap in areas used for material stockpiling and of a geotextile fabric and gravel cap in low traffic areas. Cap construction began in July 1998 and was finished in July 1999.
Upland cap area: The annual operation and maintenance report and the Five-Year Reviews indicate the upland cap is still protective and functioning as intended.
Marine area: The Five-Year Reviews of the site determined that cleanup goals for the surface water and sediments for the marine area have not been maintained.
Although confirmation sampling after dredging recorded DDT levels below the cleanup goal of 590 ug/kg, post remediation monitoring (water, sediment and mussels) showed elevated levels of DDTs that greatly exceeded the cleanup goals. The latest round of data gap sampling for the purpose of the focused feasibility study took place in summer 2007. The Summer 2007 results showed the following: The sediment concentrations (in dry weight) of total DDT in the Young Bay Mud and surface sediment samples ranged from 6.7 ug/Kg to 88,830 ug/Kg and from 2.4 ug/Kg to 2800 ug/Kg of dieldrin. The sediment concentrations of total DDT in the Old Bay Mud varied from 1.1 ug/Kg to 37,600 ug/Kg for total DDTs and from 1.5 ug/Kg to 130 ug/Kg dieldrin. The total DDT in the embankment samples varied from 26.7 ug/Kg to 4,525 ug/Kg and the dieldrin concentrations varied from 4.1 g/Kg to 97 ug/Kg. mussel tissue (in wet weight) : Total DDT and dieldrin concentrations in the Lauritzen Channel varied from 323.3 ug/Kg total DDT and 24 ug/Kg dieldrin to 1,268 ug/Kg and 81 ug/Kg.
EPA also conducted a fish collection and analysis to update the current base line information for the human health and ecological risks at the site in Summer 2008. Concentration ranged from 28 to 11,000 ppb DDT and 10 to 550 ppb dieldrin in the fish caught in the Lauritzen Channel. EPA issued an updated draft human health and ecological risk assessments in January 2010. In its focused feasibility study, EPA will use this risk information to evaluate alternatives to clean up the remaining contamination.
In winter 2009, EPA briefed interested stakeholders including West County Toxic Coalition, Laotian Organizing Project (Asian Pacific Environmental Network organization), Mayor, City Manager and Planning Director of the City of Richmond, the Watershed Project, Citizens for East Shore Parks on the status of EPA's work at United Heckathorn. EPA continues to encourage all stakeholders who are interested in the site to keep in close touch with the EPA.
In May 2011, the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued an updated fish advisory that recommended no consumption of fish from the Lauritzen Channel and recommended limited consumption of fish from San Francisco Bay.
The report is available on OEHHA’s website at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/fish/nor_cal/2011SFbay.html
On September 30, 2011, the Third Five-Year Review Report was approved for this site and it is available for public review at Richmond Public Library or in the Technical Document Section below.
The conclusions of the 2011 Five-Year Review are that:
1.) The remedy implemented at the upland area of the United Heckathorn Superfund Site is protective of human health and the environment, due to capping of contaminated soils which has eliminated human exposure pathways and prevented erosion. Routine inspection and monitoring assures the protectiveness of the upland remedy at the Site. Some improvements to the Operations and Maintenance Plan Reporting were recommended in 2010 to provide added confidence that the upland area remedy maintains its effectiveness.
2. The remedy implemented at the marine area of the Site is not protective because DDT concentrations in sediment, water and biota remain a potential exposure risk to human health and the environment. Fishermen and their families may be exposed to contaminants when fish or other edible biota from the Lauritzen Channel are consumed. The updated State of California fish advisory warns against consumption of any fish from the Lauritzen Channel.
DDT concentrations in the sediment indicate significantly higher concentrations than the average reported following dredging over 10 years ago. DDT concentrations in mussel tissues show an increasing trend compared to the initially decreasing trend observed following remedial dredging in 1997. Water sample results indicate that DDT concentrations are similar to pre-remediation concentrations, which are greater than the remedial action objective. A Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) is underway to evaluate alternatives to address the potential exposures to sediment in the Lauritzen Channel.
Present EPA Action Plan:
The Action Plan includes collecting additional data to be used to formulate a long term cleanup solution as well as implementing a short term immediate cleanup action. EPA retained national sediment experts to review existing data from the Site and make recommendations for filling data gaps to evaluate cleanup options. The sediment experts recommended collecting data to:
• Determine the source of DDT recontaminating the Lauritzen Channel
• Evaluate sediment movement in and out of the Channel
EPA will also continue to collected sediment, mussel and fish samples to evaluate the trend of DDT and dieldrin in the environment.
In October 2012, EPA installed a flap gate on the storm water outfall in the Lauritzen Channel to prevent DDT and dieldrin-contaminated sediment from moving in and out of the system during high tide. EPA will also remove any contaminated sediment from the system. EPA plans to complete the rest of the cleanup action field work in 2012 and 2013. If the results are conclusive, and there is no need for additional data collection, EPA will prepare a focused feasibility study (FFS) which will evaluate proposed clean-up options, referred to as alternatives. The EPA will then recommend its preferred alternative, which will be made available for public comment in a Proposed Plan prior to the final decision on the remedy.
Cleanup Results to Date
Since 1997, the removal of contaminated soils and sediments has greatly reduced the potential for exposure to pesticide contaminants from the United Heckathorn site. However, unacceptable levels of DDT and dieldrin remain in the waters and sediments of Lauritzen Channel. During 2002, EPA investigated Lauritzen Channel, as stated above. Some of the embankment samples were above the cleanup goals. Most of the sediment samples were above cleanup goals, with one sample particularly high. Additionally, during sampling a buried outfall only visible during low tide was found that contains high levels of DDT. Further investigation of these areas took place through 2007 to determine each source contribution of the remaining contamination. EPA is in the process of preparing a focused feasibility study to address the remaining contamination.
Potentially Responsible Parties
Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) refers to companies that are potentially responsible for generating, transporting, or disposing of the hazardous waste found at the site.
In 1996, EPA entered into four Consent Decrees with various PRPs to address cleanup of the site. The major PRPs are Levin Richmond Terminal Corporation, Shell International, and Montrose Chemical Corporation.
Documents and Reports
Public Meetings: On Monday, December 3, 2012 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm, EPA held a technical assistance follow-up meeting at Richmond Build III Facility at 500 23rd Street, Richmond, CA. The purpose of the meeting was to give an overview of the recommendations from the October 2012 Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA) and discuss how these activities can be implemented. EPA will work with the community to develop an implementation plan for recommendations in the TANA.
On July 9, 2012 from 5:30pm - 8:00pm, EPA conducted a United Heckathorn Technical Assistance Workshop at Richmond Build III Facility at 500 23rd Street, Richmond, CA. The workshop consisted of a short update on Site's Cleanup Action Plan, a brief overview of the Technical Assistance Services for Communities program and gathering of information from the community to include in a Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA). The final TANA created as a result of this workshop and follow on interviews of community stakeholders is available in the Community Involvement Section above.
On March 19, 2012 from 5:30pm to 7:00pm, EPA held a United Heckathorn Community Meeting at the Richmond Community Foundation, 1014 Florida Ave.,Richmond, CA 94804. There was a short presentation on EPA's Action Plan and community involvement. There was also a poster board session before and after the presentation where staff addressed one-on-one comments and questions. EPA's poster boards from the community meeting are presented in the Document and Report Sections above.
EPA is looking to work with local fisherman to collect fish in the Inner Richmond Harbor. If you fish in the area and are interested in supporting the work, please contact Penny Reddy at (415) 972-3108 or Jackie Lane at (415) 972-3236.
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Richmond Public Library,
325 Civic Center Plaza,
Richmond, CA 94804
EPA Site Manager
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
Berkeley, CA 94710-2721
Sandy Saeteurn, Asian Pacific Environmental Network
510-236-4616 ext. 303
Richmond, CA 94801
3727 Barrett Avenue
Richmond, CA 94805
After Hours (Emergency Response)