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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England
  Serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont & 9 Tribal Nations
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Map this site in Cleanups in My Community
 South Hope,  Maine
 Knox County
 Street Address: RTE 17
 Zip Code: 04862

 EPA ID #: MED042143883
 Site ID #: 0100989
 Site Aliases:

 Site Responsibility: Federal, State, Potentially Responsible Parties

 Proposed Date 04/10/1985
 Final Date 10/04/1989

Site Description
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The 12-acre Union Chemical Company, Inc. site began operations in 1967 as a formulator of paint and coating strippers. In 1969, the company expanded its operations and began handling and recovering petrochemical-based solvents. In 1976, the company received a state permit for an underground disposal system (a septic system) for its process wastewater. In 1979, as part of the recovery process, the company added a fluidized bed incinerator to burn contaminated sludges, still bottoms, and other undetermined hazardous wastes. Some of these types of waste were burned in an on-site boiler that provided heat and operating power to the facility. In anticipation of receiving approval for expansion of the incinerator, the company accepted additional spent solvents. Between 1979 and 1984, the plant was cited by the State for deficiencies or violations of several operating licenses. The State closed the waste treatment operations in 1984. The incinerator expansion was not approved and the company was unable to process all the spent solvents. At the time the State closed the waste treatment operations approximately 2,000 drums and 30 liquid storage tanks containing hazardous waste were stored on the site. The on-site soil and groundwater contamination resulted from a combination of leaking stored drums and spills and the use of the permitted septic system for disposal of the process wastewater.

There are approximately 200 people living within a 1/2-mile radius of the site. These residents depend on groundwater for domestic use. The site is bounded by Quiggle Brook to the east and is partially in the 100-year flood plain. Although Grassy Pond is less than 1 mile east of the site and serves as an alternate drinking water source serving approximately 22,800 people in the Towns of Camden, Rockport, Rockland, and Thomaston, it is in a different watershed than the Union Chemical Site

Threats and Contaminants
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The Remedial Investigation completed in 1989 found that the buildings and other plant facilities contained heavy metals, dioxins, and asbestos. At the time of the Remedial Investigation approximately 2 1/2 acres of the site were fenced and contained the former processing buildings, two aboveground storage tanks, a former drum storage area, and incinerator facilities. On-site groundwater and soils were contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including xylenes, trichloroethylene, tetrachlorethylene, and 1,1-dichlorethene. Off-site surface water contamination may have occurred through discharges of contaminated process wastewater into the adjacent Quiggle Brook and through natural discharge of contaminated groundwater into the brook. People who come into direct contact with or accidentally ingest contaminated groundwater could be at risk.

Cleanup Approach
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The site is being addressed in two stages: immediate action and long-term remedial action. The long-term remedial action has four components: demolition and removal of the buildings and structures on site; clean up of the on-site soils to performance standards established in the 1990 Record of Decision (ROD); evaluation of off-site soils for possible impact from the facility's incinerator; and restoration of the groundwater beneath the site.

Response Action Status
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Immediate Actions In 1984, the State and EPA collectively removed all surface drums, over 100,000 gallons of liquid wastes and sludges from aboveground storage tanks, and some contaminated soil from the site.

Facilities Based on results of site investigations, EPA selected the following remedies in 1990:soil excavation and on-site low-temperature soil aeration treatment; vacuum-enhanced groundwater extraction, on-site groundwater treatment, and on-site discharge of treated groundwater into Quiggle Brook; facilities decontamination and demolition, and off-site disposal of debris; and further monitoring and analysis of off-site soils to determine whether contamination is present as a result of past site operations. Throughout all phases of the data collection and analysis effort, EPA will determine if additional cleanup actions are required. The design for these remedies began in late 1991 and was completed in 1995. From 1993 to 1994, the facilities decontamination and demolition was completed.

On-Site Soils In 1994, EPA with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and community concurrence, adjusted the treatment to soil vapor extraction of the contaminated soils. In addition, the groundwater extraction system was significantly expanded to clean up groundwater more quickly at the site. In late 1994 and early 1995, EPA began limited source control actions in preparation for the soil vapor extraction and groundwater extraction systems. The soil vapor extraction and groundwater extraction systems began operating in early 1996. Compliance sampling of the site soils in September 1998 demonstrated that the soil performance standards had been achieved.

Off-Site Soils Meteorological data was collected on-site to address concerns that airborne material from the incinerator had impacted residential property. Sampling locations were selected based on modeling of the data and input from the community. The results showed no impact from the site incinerator. Further description of response to off-site soils can be found in EPA's September 1997 Explanation of Significant Differences ( ESD).

Groundwater Start-up of the groundwater extraction system began in February 1996. The groundwater cleanup efforts were augmented with the addition of potassium and sodium permanganate into the subsurface in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000; molasses and sodium lactate solutions (as carbon sources) in 2001 and 2002; and hydrogen peroxide in 2005. With the groundwater extraction system following the expected course of decreased removal of contaminants, the system was deactivated at the end of 2000. In 2001 the above-ground piping for both the groundwater extraction and the soil extraction systems was decommissioned and after cleaning, was disposed off site as construction debris. Based on the available data, EPA believes that the contaminant plumes in both the shallow soils and bedrock attenuate to drinking water quality prior to the property boundaries.

2007 Five-Year Review EPA completed a five-year review of the Site as required under the Superfund law. EPA concluded that the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment in the short-term, but that institutional controls on the property will be needed to assure long-term protectiveness.

Long-Term Remedial Action Long-term monitoring of the site groundwater continues. The sampling results indicate that the contaminant plumes in both the shallow soils and bedrock have stabilized with VOC concentrations decreasing. Concurrently, many of the monitoring wells and all of the groundwater and vapor extraction wells have been abandoned. This abandonment was done to prevent inadvertent routes to the bedrock aquifer and followed State of Maine protocols.

2012 Five-Year Review The third five-year review concluded the remedy remains protective because Maine DEP is the court-appointed receiver for the property, but that permanent institutional controls are needed to assure long-term protectiveness. Additionally, it was noted that restoration of groundwater to drinking water quality had not been attained and the remedy may need to be modified.

2013 ROD Amendment In November 2013 EPA, with concurrence from Maine DEP, amended the 1990 ROD to change the clean-up approach. Recognizing the technical impracticability of restoring bedrock groundwater to drinking water quality, the 2013 ROD Amendment selected a remedy that would be protective of human health and the environment through institutional controls, long-term monitoring, and periodic reviews. This change was presented to the community in Spring 2013 and was supported by the community.

Long-Term Remedial Action Maine DEP and EPA are working with the Town of Hope to implement permanent institutional controls on the Site.

Enforcement HighlightsIn 1987 and 1988, EPA, the State, and 288 parties potentially responsible for contamination at the site entered into two Administrative Orders. In these Orders, the parties agreed to conduct an investigation to examine the possible cleanup alternatives and reimburse EPA and the State for approximately 80 percent of past cleanup costs. In 1989, EPA entered into a Consent Decree with nine additional potentially responsible parties where the parties agreed to reimburse EPA for additional incurred past costs and certain litigation costs. In 1991, EPA entered into a Consent Decree with the past owner/operator for reimbursement of additional EPA past costs and for a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Administrative Order violation from 1987. Also in 1991, EPA filed three separate Consent Decrees with three potentially responsible parties for violations. A Consent Decree between EPA, the State, and 60 potentially responsible parties was issued in 1991 formalizing an agreement for the parties to support site cleanup. In early 1992, EPA, Maine DEP, and 270 potentially responsible parties formalized a settlement agreement.

Environmental Progress
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The removal of contaminated drums, tanks, and soil has reduced the potential for exposure to contamination at the Union Chemical Company, Inc. site. With the successful cleanup of the on-site soil, the soil is no longer a source of contamination to the groundwater. Contamination levels in the groundwater have been decreased significantly since the Remedial Investigation through implementation of pump-and-treat technology and several innovative technologies but are still above drinking water standards. It is estimated that 96% of the original contamination has been removed from the soils, bedrock, and groundwater.

Current Site Status
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EPA, MEDEP, and the PRPs have updated the Conceptual Site Model - a synthesis of all geologic, hydrologic, and chemistry data used to develop a comprehensive explanation of the fate and transport of the site contaminants. This document forms the basis for determining the next steps for the Site. In 2011, EPA and MEDEP approved a Technical Impracticability Evaluation Report that documented it was technically impracticable to successfully reduce the remaining residual contamination to drinking water standards. In 2013 EPA proposed that the remedy be amended to reflect this and to place use restrictions on the Site to maintain the protectiveness of the remedy. This proposed change in the approach was supported by Maine DEP and the community. Long-term monitoring of the groundwater continues as does further demobilization of the Site.

Site Photos
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Links to Other Site Information
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Disclaimer Instructions about PDF

Newsletters & Press Releases:
Press Releases about this project  

Federal Register Notices:
Final NPL Listing  

Administrative Records:
Administrative Record (AR) Index, OU1 Record of Decision (ROD), December 27, 1990 (4.95 MB)  
Administrative Record (AR) Index, Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) Supplement, December 04, 1991 (262 KB)  
Administrative Record (AR) Index, De Minimus Settlement, January 24, 1992 (550 KB)  
Administrative Record (AR) Index, OU1 Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), June 30, 1994 (137 KB)  
Administrative Record (AR) Index, Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), October 01, 2001 (297 KB)  
Administrative Record (AR) Index, Record of Decision (ROD) Amendment, December 2013 (640 KB)  

Reports and Studies:
Five Year Review Report, September 18, 2002 (1564KB)  
Bedrock Well Installation and Geophysical Evaluation, April 30, 2004 (2.26 MB)  
Conceptual Site Model Report, September 10, 2004 (13.57 MB)  
Second Five Year Review Report, September 28, 2007 (4.54 MB)  
Third Five Year Review Report, September 27, 2012 (3.09 MB)  

Decision Documents:
View Records of Decision (RODS) on-line (EPA HQ)  
Record of Decision (ROD), December 27, 1990 (2.21 MB)  
Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), June 30, 1994 (1.18 MB)   
Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), September 25, 1997 (592 KB)  
Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD), September 28, 2001 (1.90 MB)  
Record of Decision (ROD) Amendment, OU 1, November 27, 2013 (18.8 MB)  
Institutional Controls at this Site  

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

Site Repositories
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Hope Town Office, Route 105, Hope, ME 04847

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: Terry Connelly
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Sq., Suite 100
Mail Code OSRR07-1
Boston, MA 02109 - 3912
Phone #: 617-918-1373
E-Mail Address: connelly.terry@epa.gov

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator: Pamela Harting-Barrat
Address: US Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Sq., Suite 100
Mail Code ORA20-1
Boston, MA 02109 - 3912
Phone #: 617-918-1318
E-Mail Address: harting-barrat.pamela@epa.gov


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