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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
  Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont & 9 Tribal Nations
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 North Pownal,  Vermont
 Bennington County
 Street Address: ROUTE 346
 Zip Code: 05261

 EPA ID #: VTD069910354
 Site ID #: 0101463
 Site Aliases:

 Site Responsibility: Federal, State

 Proposed Date 09/29/1998
 Final Date 01/19/1999

Site Description
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The Pownal Tannery site is located between Route 346 and the Hoosic River in the Village of North Pownal, in Bennington County, Vermont. The site was a former hide tanning and finishing facility owned by the Pownal Tanning Company, Inc.. It has been inactive since 1988 when the company declared bankruptcy. The site consists of three contamination sources: the tannery building complex, a lagoon system, and the tannery's sludge landfill. In total, the Pownal Tannery site encompasses approximately 28 acres. From approximately 1937 until 1962, untreated tanning process wastewater was directly discharged into the Hoosic River. A lagoon system comprising six lagoons, was constructed in several stages between 1962 and 1971 to receive the tannery's wastewater. In 1982, a state permitted lined landfill was constructed on site which received sludge dredged from a portion of the lagoons. The tannery landfill is situated on a parcel of land across from the Hoosic River and southwest of the tannery building complex. In 1987, two-thirds of the landfill was covered and closed. The remaining portion remained uncovered until 2001. The area is a rural and residential community with approximately 3,500 residents. The nearest residences are approximately 200 feet from the site and rely upon groundwater from private wells for their water supply. While some site related contaminants have been detected in residential wells in the past, current sampling data indicates that safe drinking water standards are not being exceeded.

Threats and Contaminants
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The groundwater, soil and lagoon/landfill sludge are contaminated primarily with metals, semi-VOCs, and dioxin. Metals, semi-VOCs and dioxin have been found in site soil/sludge and on building materials at levels that pose an unacceptable direct contact threat. River sediments associated with the Hoosic River are contaminated with several metals, with some exceeding federal benchmark criteria indicating a potential adverse impact to aquatic organisms. However the data indicate that there are unknown sources other than the Pownal site associated with this contamination. Access to the site is partially restricted. While sampling data indicates that the site has not adversely affected the nearest residential wells, continued migration of contaminated groundwater could present a future human health threat and long-term groundwater monitoring will be performed.

Cleanup Approach
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The site is being addressed in three stages: two initial actions and a final long-term remedial phase which will address contamination at the entire site.

Response Action Status
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Initial Action Following an initial EPA site evaluation in 1993, a time-critical removal action was taken in 1993 and 1994 to remove 13,000 pounds of contaminated material left behind in drums and tanks within the tannery buildings. Additionally, site access restrictions were put in place but were subsequently compromised by trespassers. This action mitigated the immediate threats to the community.

Seconday Action Between 1995 and 1998, EPA completed an additional preliminary investigation of the source areas at the site, which included the collection of samples at the lagoons, the landfill and tannery building. In March of 1999 EPA made a determination to address two of the three source area's of contamination at the site. Beginning in the summer of 1999 EPA began a cleanup which included decontamination and demolition of tannery buildings, removal of all underground tanks, removal of contaminated soil under tannery buildings to the on-site landfill, capping the landfill and repairing the leachate collection system at the landfill, and excavation of a small quantity of tannery waste that had been deposited adjacent to the Hoosic River. This action was completed in the Spring of 2001. The former tannery building area was restored and is currently being used recreationally. The state of Vermont is performing the operation and maintenance at the former tannery building location and at the landfill.

Final Action In 2002, EPA completed a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) to further determine the nature and extent of contamination at the third source area at the site; the sludge lagoon area. This study also addressed potential contamination in the surface water/sediments of the Hoosic River, as well as potential contamination in the groundwater. The RI/FS and proposed cleanup plan was released to the public in 2002.
On September 30, 2002, EPA signed the Record of Decision outlining EPA's final decision regarding how the remaining site contaminants would be addressed. The cleanup plan for the site will address contaminated lagoon sludge where elevated concentrations of hazardous substances were detected. Among the contaminants detected at elevated levels are dioxin, chromium, lead, arsenic and benzo(a)pyrene. This remedy entails the excavation and consolidation of tannery lagoon waste, construction of a low permeability cap over the consolidated wastes on site, long-term monitoring of river sediments and ground water, and institutional controls to protect the cap from disturbance and to prevent ground water consumption and excavation of waste in the lagoon area.

The selected remedy is a comprehensive approach for the tannery site that will address all current and potential future risks caused by site wastes. At the former tannery lagoons the cleanup will prevent direct contact risks with contaminated lagoon waste and will significantly decrease further off-site migration that the lagoon sludge could cause through leaching to the ground water or erosion to the adjacent river through flooding events. As a result of the previous removal actions, the soil and sludge contamination in the lagoon area was the only remaining area needing further cleanup measures. Cleanup activities began in July of 2003 and were completed in September 2004. The State of Vermont is currently performing Operation and Maintenance activities at the former lagoon area/new landfill.

In 2007, EPA issued the first Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) to document a modification to the 2002 Record of Decision. Specifically, 1) the extent of the Institutional Controls required for the site have been further characterized and defined, 2) the monitoring requirements for the Operation and Maintenance component of the remedy have been detailed, and 3) a determination that a limited portion of a protective earthen berm adjacent to the Hoosic River and the new landfill is an integral component of the remedy. The State of Vermont has concurred with this determination.

In 2010, EPA issued the second ESD to address limited detections of metals in site groundwater (former mill building area) which exceed either a State or Federal cleanup standard for drinking water. EPA determined that an assessment is warranted to determine whether these are site related contaminants or may represent naturally occurring background conditions in the area. Data collected through the existing long-term monitoring program is evaluated annually and this determination is expected to be completed prior to future deletion of the site from the NPL.

Enforcement HighlightsThere are no Potentially Responsible Parties at this site.

Environmental Progress
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The initial actions to remove liquid and bulk hazardous materials remaining in the tannery buildings reduced the potential for accidental exposure to hazardous wastes at the site. The secondary measures to completely address building contamination and to close the Dean Road landfill addressed potential exposures to two of the three source areas at the former tannery site. The RI/FS identified the risks and issues relating to the remaining contamination at the site (former lagoon area). The final action taken in 2003 and 2004 effectively addressed those concerns at the site.

Current Site Status
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EPA completed the final cleanup action at the site to stabilize, consolidate, and cap the lagoon sludge in 2004. Operation, maintenance and monitoring activities are currently being conducted by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. All institutional controls to protect the engineered remedial measures and prevent unacceptable exposures to site contaminants have been established. The second five year review documents EPA's determination that the remedy is protective of human health and the environment in the short term.

Site Photos
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SDMS 70015
SDMS 70012
SDMS 70013
SDMS 70014

Links to Other Site Information
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Disclaimer Instructions about PDF
Maps and Photos:
Aerial Photograph, 2003 (32 KB)  
Aerial Photograph Showing Areas Needing Cleanup, 2003 (105 KB)  
Aerial Photograph Showing Landfill Cap, 2003 (82 KB)  
Aerial Photograph Showing Source Areas Studied, 2003 (99 KB)  
Figure 1, Fact Sheet March 2004 (604 KB)  
Figure 2, Fact Sheet March 2004 (554 KB)  
Wick Drains (123 KB)  

Newsletters & Press Releases:
Press Releases about this project  
Fact Sheet, March 2004 (39 KB)  
Fact Sheet: Five-Year Update, February 2014 (1.61 MB)  

Federal Register Notices:
Final NPL Listing  

Administrative Records:
Administrative Record Index, OU1 Record of Decision (ROD), October 1, 2002 (292 KB)   
Administrative Record Index, OU1 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), October 1, 2007 (277 KB)  
Non-Time Critical Removal Action (NTCRA) Administrative Record (AR) Index, May 25, 2010 (112 KB)  
Administrative Record Index, Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), October 1, 2010 (81.9 KB)  

Reports and Studies:
Non-Time-Critical Removal Action Report, November 2001 (1.3MB)  
Preliminary Reuse Assessment, September 2002  
Remedial Investigation, July 2002 (1.9MB)  
Feasibility Study, July 2002 (2.9MB)  
Lagoon Area Remediation, Final Basis of Design Report, December 2003   
Community Relations Plan for the Remedial Investigation, March 2004 (11 MB)  
Lagoon Area Remediation Remedial Action Completion Report, February 2005 (48,665KB)  
Site Reuse Profile, August 2005  
Remedial Action Report, September 30, 2005 (1.85 MB)  
Five Year Review Report, September 1, 2009 (7.89 MB)  
Second Five Year Review Report, September 24, 2014 (2.17 MB)  

Decision Documents:
View Records of Decision (RODS) on-line (EPA HQ)  
Record of Decision, September 30, 2002 (302KB)  
Explanation of Significant Differences, September 28, 2007 (16.53 MB)  
Second Explanation of Significant Differences, September 28, 2010 (652 KB)  
Institutional Controls at this Site  

Other Links:
NPL Site Narrative at Listing:  
Site Progress Profile  

Site Repositories
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Solomon Wright Public Library, Pownal Vermont, 05261

OSRR Records and Information Center, 1st Floor, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (HSC), Boston, MA 02109-3912 (617) 918-1440

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EPA Remedial Project Manager: Leslie McVickar
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code OSRR07-4
Boston, MA 02109-3912
Phone #: 617-918-1374
E-Mail Address: mcvickar.leslie@epa.gov

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator: Sarah White
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100
Mail Code ORA20-1
Boston, MA 02109-3912
Phone #: 617-918-1026
E-Mail Address: white.sarah@epa.gov

State Agency Contact: Ash Desmond
Address: Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
One National Life Drive - Davis 1
Montpelier, VT 05602-3704
Phone #: 802-249-5307
E-Mail Address:


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Last updated on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
URL: http://www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/pownal