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Ruth Podems, (215) 814-5540
Hanover County, Va. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the use of an innovative clean-up technology for the H & H Burn Pit Superfund site here, ensuring even faster, safer progress while saving over $2 million.
Located 12 miles northwest of Richmond, this disposal pit once presented a constant potential threat to the surrounding community. After years as a dumping ground for industrial solvents and other hazardous substances, the EPA placed it on the National Priorities List of the nation’s most hazardous waste sites in 1989.
EPA has since overseen its cleanup, including disposal of contaminated soil and sediment. Meanwhile, the parties responsible for the cleanup -- Haskell Chemical Co., J.W. Fergusson & Sons, Inc., Reynolds Metals Co., T. Frank Flippo, LLC, and Westvaco Corp.-- designed a groundwater treatment system.
While developing this EPA-approved system, the responsible parties also tested alternative cleanup methods. Today, thanks to recent advances in environmental cleanup technology, EPA has just given its stamp of approval to an alternative, state-of-the-art cleanup design.
Called High Vacuum Extraction, the new method uses "carbon adsorption" to remove contamination from both soil vapor and water concurrently, by passing them through carbon. The contaminants, in this case solvents, then adhere to the carbon, and clean air and water result. The previously selected treatment method, called pump-and-treat, removes and treats contamination from the water alone. Installation of the new system is underway and it should be operational by spring 2000.
While not every toxic site is a candidate for HVE, pilot studies conducted at H & H Burn Pit indicated good geologic and environmental conditions for successfully applying this technology. The responsible parties determined that HVE would not only meet EPA’s cleanup standards, but save more than because of shortened cleanup time and lowered operation costs.
"H & H Burn Pit highlights the flexibility of the Superfund process, which encourages changes to cleanup decisions and technologies whenever possible," said W. Michael McCabe, regional administrator for the agency’s mid-Atlantic region. "Thanks to high levels of cooperation between EPA, the potentially responsible parties, and community members, this site symbolizes how Superfund reforms means faster, fairer and more cost-effective cleanups."
Nationwide, over $1 billion in taxpayer dollars have been saved from changes made to cleanup decisions at hazardous sites since 1996.