Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Omega Chemical Corporation
EPA #: CAD042245001
County: Los Angeles
Congressional District: 34 and 39
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 09/29/98
Final Date: 01/19/99
The Omega Chemical Corporation facility, located at 12504 and 12512 East Whittier Boulevard in Whittier, California (the "former Omega property"), was a refrigerant and solvent recycling, reformulation and treatment facility that operated from approximately 1976 to 1991. Omega processed drums and bulk loads of waste solvents and other chemicals and contaminated the soil and groundwater as a result of spills, leaks, and other chemical releases. The primary contaminants are tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), and Freons 11 and 113. Contaminated groundwater extends more than four miles downgradient (south/southwest) of the former Omega facility. In January 1999, EPA placed the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site (Omega Site) on its National Priorities List.
EPA manages the Omega Site as three operable units (OUs): OU-1 includes the contaminated soil and groundwater at and in the immediate vicinity of the former Omega property; OU-2 is composed of groundwater contamination outside and generally downgradient (south-southwest) of OU-1; and OU-3 addresses vapor intrusion from the Omega Site that has occurred in several buildings on and in close proximity to the former Omega facility. Vapor intrusion is the process by which contaminant vapors in soil and/or groundwater migrate through subsurface soils and enter overlying buildings.
Contaminants and Risks
- Soil and Sludges
Subsurface soil and groundwater at the Omega Site contain a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including PCE, TCE and Freon. As a result of an EPA drum removal action in 1995 and 1996, the primary source of the contamination has been removed and fenced off from public access. EPA is taking action to ensure that no one is exposed to unsafe levels of hazardous substances associated with the Omega Site.
Who is Involved
The Omega Site is being addressed through Federal and potentially responsible parties’ actions.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
Contamination at the Omega Site is being addressed through both non-time critical removal action and remedial action authorities under the Federal Superfund law. The full name of the Superfund law is the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, “CERCLA.”
BACKGROUND AND INITIAL ACTIONS
Prior to 1995, the lead regulatory agency for the former Omega facility was the State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). During the 1980s, several assessments of subsurface conditions were performed, including sampling of soil gas and groundwater. In 1987, a 500-gallon underground storage tank was removed. From 1991 through 1994, DTSC, with EPA's Superfund Division support, actively pursued the owner and operator of the Omega facility to remove the wastes and begin cleanup of the Site. In May 1995, EPA determined that a removal action was necessary and issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to approximately 170 major generator potentially responsible parties (PRPs), all of whom sent 10 tons or greater of hazardous materials to the former Omega property, to perform removal activities at the Site. These major contributing parties thereafter formed a workgroup called the Omega Chemical Site Potentially Responsible Parties Organized Group, or “OPOG.” During 1995, EPA oversaw removal activities performed by the PRPs under the 1995 UAO that included the removal and off-site treatment of approximately 3,000 drums of hazardous waste, 60 cubic yards of hardened resin material,and hundreds of empty contaminated drums.
In 1996, OPOG, with EPA oversight, undertook the collection and analyses of some preliminary subsurface soil and groundwater samples at the former Omega property and surrounding locations. The investigation identified one area of "grossly contaminated" near-surface soil in the loading dock sump; that material was excavated and removed. A preliminary groundwater investigation conducted in 1996 concluded that elevated levels of volatile organic compounds were present in groundwater downgradient of the former Omega property.
Groundwater in the OU-2 area is used as a source of drinking water by several municipal and private water purveyors. Most of the drinking water wells located in the OU-2 area draw water primarily from deeper portions of the aquifer from depths at or greater than 200 feet below ground surface (bgs) and are not currently impacted by groundwater contamination at the Site. Drinking water wells that draw water from shallower potions of the aquifer have been shut down or equipped with wellhead treatment units to remove the contaminants. Drinking water for the Cities of Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, and Norwalk is tested regularly prior to distribution to the public to ensure that all tap water meets State and Federal drinking water standards.
OPERABLE UNIT 1: SOIL AND GROUNDWATER AT AND NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY INVESTIGATION
On April 1, 1999, EPA issued Special Notice Letters to a group of PRPs and commenced negotiations for the performance of additional work at the Site. On February 28, 2001, a Partial Consent Decree was entered by the United States District Court memorializing the terms of this agreement. Under this agreement, the Settling Defendants agreed to pay a portion of EPA's past costs and perform the following work at the Omega Site:
1) Implementation of a Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study (“RI/FS”) for contamination in the vadose zone (i.e., the soil) on and near the former Omega property (also known as the Phase 1A area);
2) Performance of an Engineering Evaluation and Cost Analysis (“EE/CA”) addressing groundwater contamination in the Phase 1A area and implementation of the response action to be selected in an EPA Action Memorandum at the conclusion of the EE/CA;
3) Installation of up to three groundwater monitoring wells at locations downgradient of the Phase 1A area and upgradient of a City of Santa Fe Springs water supply well.
With EPA oversight, OPOG installed the three groundwater monitoring wells in early 1999, completed the groundwater EE/CA in July 2005, and completed the vadose zone RI/FS in 2008,
OPERABLE UNIT-2: GROUNDWATER INVESTIGATION
In August 2010, EPA completed OU-2 RI and FS reports, which evaluated the nature and extent of OU-2 groundwater contamination, assessed the potential risks posed by this contamination to human health and the environment, and developed and evaluated alternative remedial actions to address the contaminated groundwater.
OPERABLE UNIT 3: INDOOR AIR AT OR NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY INVESTIGATION
Beginning in 2004, indoor air samples from buildings on and near the former Omega property were evaluated for vapor intrusion from contaminated soil and groundwater. Based on the testing, it was found that vapor intrusion was occurring in buildings within or near OU-1. (As of September 2017, periodic testing of indoor air continues to verify that the OU1 remedies are preventing contaminants from moving into overlying buildings at unsafe levels.)
OPERABLE UNIT-1: SOIL AND GROUNDWATER REMEDIES AT AND NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY
In September 2005, based on the July 2005 EE/CA, EPA issued an Action Memorandum which authorized construction and operation of a groundwater extraction and treatment system. Construction of the pump and treat system was completed in 2009, after which the system began operating.
In September 2008, based on the November 2007 RI report and May 2008 FS report, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) selecting a soil cleanup remedy for OU-1. The remedial action selected in the ROD consists of a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system to remove and treat the chemical vapors in the soil within OU-1. Once the contaminants are removed by GAC filters, the clean air is released into the atmosphere.
OPERABLE UNIT-2: REGIONAL GROUNDWATER REMEDY
In August 2010, EPA issued a Proposed Plan for OU-2 that identified its preferred groundwater containment remedy. EPA held public meetings and received public comment on its plan from August through November 2010.
In September 2011, based on the August 2010 RI and FS reports and comments received from the public, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) selecting a remedy designed to prevent further spreading of the contaminated groundwater and remove contaminants from the groundwater. The remedy requires the construction and operation of one or more groundwater extraction wells to pump contaminated groundwater to the surface, water treatment facilities to remove the contaminants, and pipelines to deliver the treated groundwater to one or more end users. It also requires the construction of new groundwater monitoring wells and monitoring of new and existing wells.
In June 2016, the 2011 ROD was updated with a document known as an "Explanation of Significant Differences" (ESD). The ESD expands the possible end-uses of the treated groundwater, removes the preference for a drinking water end-use included in the 2011 ROD, adds the California Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for hexavalent chromium as a potential treatment requirement, and updates EPA's cleanup cost estimates.
OPERABLE UNIT-3: INDOOR AIR REMEDY
In April 2006, EPA issued an Action Memorandum to address indoor air contamination at the Skateland property. In September 2006, OPOG organized and funded the purchase of the Skateland property and implemented an EPA-approved response action that permanently discontinued its use as a commercial building. The 2006 Action Memo was modified by letters issued by EPA in and between 2011 and 2014.
The 2005 Action Memorandum, 2006 Action Memorandum, 2008 Record of Decision, 2011 Record of Decision, and 2016 Explanation of Significant Differences are available in the "Records of Decision" section below
OPERABLE UNIT-2: REGIONAL GROUNDWATER REMEDY
In March 31, 2017, a Federal court approved an agreement between EPA and 66 “Potentially Responsible Parties” (PRPs) to spend an estimated $70 million to implement the majority of EPA’s 2011 Record of Decision for OU2.
The PRPs agreed to begin preparation of initial planning documents for design of the remedy upon lodging of the agreement. Pre-design work for the new water treatment systems, groundwater extraction wells and piping is now underway and expected to continue into 2018, with detailed design work to follow. Construction of the remedy is expected to begin in 2020. EPA will oversee design and construction of the remedy, which will remediate contaminated groundwater in an area extending from OU1 to about Telegraph Road in Santa Fe Springs, a distance of approximately three miles. The PRPs also agreed to install and sample three groundwater monitoring well clusters to provide data that EPA will use to determine what additional investigation and/or remediation is needed to address contaminated groundwater downgradient of Telegraph Road. Installation of the three well clusters is expected in to begin in September 2017
To provide up to date data for remedial design, EPA has been analyzing groundwater samples from existing groundwater wells semi-annually or annually. Results for the years 2008-2014 are available in groundwater monitoring reports available in the Documents and Reports section below. The PRPs collected and analyzed samples in December 2015 and will continue sampling annually, with the most recent sampling event completed in October 2016. The 2017 sampling event is scheduled for September 2017.
A copy of the 2017 Consent Decree and the Court Order approving the agreement are available in the Legal Documents section below. Groundwater results for 2008-2016, the approved Work Area Monitoring Plan (which describes the periodic groundwater sampling), the approved Pre-Design Investigation and Leading Edge Investigation Work Plans, and a map showing the approximate locations of the pre-design wells, are available in the Technical Documents section below.
OPERABLE UNITS 1 AND 3: SOIL, GROUNDWATER, AND INDOOR AIR REMEDIES AT AND NEAR THE FORMER OMEGA PROPERTY
In 2005, OPOG began design of the OU1 groundwater remedy in accordance with the 2001 Consent Decree and 2005 Action Memo. The OU1 groundwater extraction and treatment system began operation in 2009 and, as of June 2017, has treated more than 38 million gallons of contaminated groundwater and removed approximately 950 pounds of contaminants from the groundwater. The system is currently removing approximately 20 pounds of contaminants per year.
In 2009, OPOG entered into an agreement with EPA that led to the design, construction, and operation of soil vapor extraction systems to address indoor air contamination at buildings at and near OU1. The 2009 agreement, as modified in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014, requires OPOG to continue periodic indoor air monitoring in several buildings near the former Omega facility.
In 2010, OPOG entered into a Consent Decree to design, construct, and operate the OU1 soil vapor extraction systems required by EPA's 2008 Record of Decision.
As of 2017, the SVE systems have removed more than 9,500 pounds of contaminants and continue to remove than 50 pounds of contaminants per year.
EPA oversees the operation of the groundwater and soil vapor extraction systems.
Cleanup Results to Date
With the removal of the over 2,700 drums and the grossly contaminated soils from the Omega Property, EPA removed an imminent threat to the environment and health of the public. Construction of a pump and treatment system to contain the high concentration groundwater contamination within the OU-1 was completed and began operating in 2009 and has removed more than 950 pounds of contaminants. Soil vapor extraction (SVE) systems have operated since 2010 to reduce the concentrations of contaminants in the indoor air of affected buildings in and near the OU-1 area and remove contaminants from the subsurface. The SVE systems have removed more than 9,500 pounds of contaminants since 2010.
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.
Documents and Reports
Public Meetings: Starting in September 2017 and continuing into 2018, at least 40 new groundwater wells will be installed to provide data needed to design the OU2 groundwater cleanup systems and determine what additional cleanup may be needed at the site. Most of the wells will be located in the city of Santa Fe Springs. See above, in the "Maps" portion of the "Documents and Reports" section, for a figure showing the seven locations where the initial 23 wells will be installed. See above, in the "Fact Sheets" portion of the "Documents and Reports" section, for the flyer distributed to businesses and residents near drilling location CE-1. Similar flyers are being distributed at each drilling location.
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Whittier Public Library
7344 S. Washington Avenue
Whittier, CA 90602
Ask for the Omega Site information at the
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
9211 Oakdale Avenue
Chatsworth, CA 91311-6505
San Diego, CA 92106
After Hours (Emergency Response)