Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Lorentz Barrel & Drum Co.
EPA #: CAD029295706
County: Santa Clara
City: San Jose
Congressional District: 16
On 10/13/17, this website will no longer be updated. Site information will be migrated to the new web page at: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/lorentzbarrel-drum .
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On this page
Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 10/15/84
Final Date: 10/04/89
Site Location and Geography
The Lorentz Barrel and Drum Site (Site) is located at the intersection of Alma Avenue and 10th Street in San Jose, California. The Site and adjacent properties are zoned for commercial and industrial use. Residential housing is located within a one mile radius of the Site. The adjacent properties to the south and to the east are used for industrial activities, and the properties to the north and west are the San Jose State University (SJSU) sports fields, which include a baseball field, soccer field, football stadium, track field and tennis court. Single family residential housing is located further north and northeast approximately 1,100 feet from the Site.
The Lorentz family began a drum recycling operation on a 6.72 acre portion of a 10.5 acre Lorentz Barrel & Drum Co. property in 1947. During the early years of operation, portions of the property were sold or leased to other companies. Eventually, the size of the Site was reduced to a 5.25 acre parcel. The Site received over two million drums from more than 3,000 parties in connection with the recycling business operations until it was closed by a court action brought by the California Department of Health Services (DHS) in July 1987. The facility received drums that contained aqueous wastes, organic solvents, acids, oxidizers, and waste oils. The drums were reconditioned through a variety of methods including caustic and acid washing, incineration, blasting with steel shot, and steam cleaning. The residues and cleaning materials were dumped into sumps and basins on-site which then drained to a storm sewer. The reconditioned drums were resealed and repainted with substances such as phenolic epoxy resins, rust inhibitors and lead-based paints. The drums were either returned to the original owner or sold.
Site Discovery and Addition to National Priorities List
In 1968, a San Jose industrial waste inspector found hazardous substances in Coyote Creek, which is less than half a mile to the north of the Site. The inspector discovered that the source the Lorentz Barrel and Drum facility ("the Lorentz facility"). In response to the waste inspector's concerns, the Lorentz facility owner temporarily redirected the untreated recycling waste discharge from the storm sewer to on-site basins and sumps.
Between 1980 and 1985, several State agencies issued numerous violations against the facility owner for the inappropriate handling and storing of hazardous substances, as well as for releases into the storm sewer. In 1985, the Department of Health Services ("DHS") cited the Lorentz facility with 14 violations of the California Administrative Code and Federal Regulations concerning the inappropriate handling and storage of hazardous wastes. The Santa Clara County Attorney obtained a Temporary Restraining Order to close down operations at the Lorentz facility, and the Lorentz facility was permanently closed in July 1987. In 1984, EPA proposed the Site to be listed on the National Priorities List (NPL). In 1989, the Site was listed on the NPL.
Contaminants and Risks
- Soil and Sludges
The chemical contaminants detected in the on-site soil included volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), pesticides, herbicides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and inorganics (e.g., arsenic, lead and heavy metals). In addition, VOCs and SVOCs have been found in the shallow zone groundwater.
Who is Involved
This site is being addressed through Federal, State, and potentially responsible parties' actions.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
This site is being addressed in three stages: immediate actions and two long-term remedial phases focusing on cleanup of the entire property and groundwater.
DHS assumed responsibility for the Site in 1982 and conducted a soil investigation. In 1987, response actions at the site by EPA and DHS included a series of removal actions in which drums, heavily contaminated soils, buildings, tanks, and sumps were removed and taken off-site for proper disposal. DHS's contractor excavated contaminated soils and EPA conducted sampling and removed abandoned drums from the Site. In addition, EPA's contractor drained and disposed hazardous liquids from the on-site storage tanks. In the same year, DHS referred the Site to EPA. In 1988, EPA and DHS excavated an additional 3,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated soils from the sump and basin areas of the Site and removed 26,000 drums containing hazardous substances and other wastes. The Site was also fenced off and the areas of the Site with the highest levels of contaminated surface soils were paved with a temporary asphaltic cap to prevent direct human contact with the surface soils and to control dust and erosion. In 1994, a group of potentially responsible parties ("PRPs") completed a two-phase removal of contaminated buildings, and sumps, debris, drums, and asbestos waste.
Remedial Investigation and Remedial Actions
EPA started the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) in 1988 and completed it in July 1990. EPA issued two Records of Decision (RODs) after completion of the RI/FS. The first ROD issued was the Operable Unit 2 (OU2) ROD (1988) which is for the shallow zone groundwater. The OU2 ROD selected pump and treat technology for the shallow zone groundwater remedy at the Site. The remedy is to control the shallow groundwater plume’s off-site migration. Shallow zone groundwater treatment is expected to continue for 30 years.
The second ROD is the OU1 ROD (1993) which is the Site soils remedy and deep zone groundwater monitoring. The OU1 ROD called for contaminated subsurface soil removal, vadose zone soil vapor extraction, capping the Site, and deep zone groundwater monitoring. The OU1 ROD included remedial actions to remediate VOC-contaminated soil on-site and to encapsulate the soils contaminated with metals and organics.
In 1990, EPA started a semi-annual groundwater monitoring program for the deep aquifer and entered into a Consent Decreee ("Lorentz CD") with 11 Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs). The Lorentz CD directed the PRP group to design, construct, and operate a shallow groundwater extraction and treatment system as described in the OU2 ROD. Construction of shallow groundwater extraction wells and the Ultraviolet/ Oxidation-Granular Activated Carbon (UV/Ox-GAC) treatment facility began in 1991. The PRPs completed the construction in 1992 and have operated the treatment plant since 1992.
The OU1 ROD remedial activities included construction of a cap, installation and operation of a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system, development of a deep zone groundwater monitoring program, and implementation of institutional controls at the Site. In 1992, EPA signed an Administrative Consent Order with seven PRPs to remove and dispose of the remaining drums, asbestos, site debris, structures, and sumps. This work was later included in the OU1 ROD, and the work was complete by the PRPs in 1994. The OU1 remaining preliminary tasks were completed prior to 1997. The final phase of the OU1 remedy, the construction of an asphaltic cap and the installation of an SVE system, was completed in September 1998.
EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for the groundwater remedy (OU2) in April 1998. This ESD allowed the change of the UV/Ox-GAC groundwater treatment system to a GAC filter only treatment system. This change increased the treatment efficiency and significantly reduced operation and maintenance costs. In May 1998, EPA issued an ESD for the OU1 remedy. This ESD changed the final soil remedy under the OU1 ROD to off-site disposal of stockpiled soil instead of retaining the soil on-site, which reduced initial construction costs and also provided flexibility for the future Site use.
Current Site Status
The PRPs continue to operate and maintain the shallow zone groundwater pump and treatment system and groundwater monitoring. The current property owners routinely submit asphaltic / concrete cap inspection / maintenance reports to the EPA. EPA is responsible for the deep zone groundwater sampling, implementation of institutional controls and Site security activities. EPA also continues to monitor the progress of the overall Site remedy, including long-term institutional controls. The soil vapor extraction system was turned off in 2004.
A group of 11 potentially responsible parties designed, constructed, and continued operation of a shallow groundwater extraction and treatment system using an ultraviolet/oxidation technology. In 1992, a group of seven potentially responsible parties performed the actions described above.
Cleanup Results to Date
Removing drums, highly contaminated soil, contaminated structures, sumps, debris, and asbestos waste, and fencing and paving the Site have reduced the potential of exposure to contaminated materials at the Lorentz Barrel & Drum Co. Site. Contaminated groundwater is being treated while the cleanup of remaining soil contamination is ongoing.
The U.S. EPA conducts a review every five years to assess the effectiveness of a current Site remedy and to evaluate the protectiveness of that remedy to human health and the environment. The first five-year review report was prepared by the EPA in September 2000. The second Five-Year Review report was prepared by EPA in September 2005. EPA published the site institutional controls monitoring plan (ICMP) in 2008, and conducted soil gas sampling in the last quarter of 2007 to evaluate the effectiveness of the soil vapor extraction system. EPA updated the site conceptual model in 2009 and conducted the third Five-Year Review report in 2010. EPA and the PRPs began the Focused Feasibility Study in 2011 to update the remedies. A fourth Five-Year Review, completed in 2015, found the remedies to be protective of human health and the environment.
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.
There are 11 PRPs associated with this Site. A contact person for the PRPs is available in the "Contacts" section of this web page.
Documents and Reports
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Public Library Reference Desk
150 E. San Fernando Street,
San Jose, CA 95112
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
Charlotte, NC 28210
After Hours (Emergency Response)