Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Lehr Old Campus Landfill (USDOE)
EPA #: CA2890190000
Congressional District: 03
Other Names: Laboratory for Energy-related Health Research (USDOE and UC Davis)
On this page
Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 01/18/94
Final Date: 05/31/94
Description and Background
From the 1950s until the mid 1980s, the 15-acre LEHR (Laboratory for Energy Related Health Research) was the site of studies on the long-term health effects of low-level radiation on laboratory animals. The research projects at LEHR were primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Investigation of the site has found soils and groundwater contamination from chemical and radioactive wastes resulting from the disposal of laboratory and campus waste on-site. Also on the site are three inactive landfill areas that were used for disposal of UC Davis campus wastes.
The LEHR/Old Campus Landfill site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List in May 1994 as a result of several environmental issues including groundwater contamination and numerous landfills.
The Atomic Energy Commission (now DOE) began conducting radiological studies on laboratory animals in the early 1950s. Initial studies were carried out on the main UC Davis campus and involved the irradiation of beagles. LEHR began operating in its present location (south campus) in 1958 when full-scale experimental use of radioactive materials began. Research at LEHR through the mid-1980s focused on the health effects from chronic exposure to radionuclides, primarily strontium-90 (Sr-90) and radium-226 (Ra-226). In the early 1970s, a cobalt-60 irradiator facility was constructed at LEHR to study the effects of chronic exposure to gamma rays on bone marrow cells of beagles.
From the 1940s through the mid-1960s, portions of the site were used as the UC Davis campus landfill. Burial holes and trenches around the landfills were used to dispose low-level radioactive and mixed waste from UC Davis and LEHR research activities. Part of UC Davis' inactive Landfill Disposal Unit 2, operated from 1956 through 1967, underlies the Eastern Dog Pens.
Contaminants and Risks
- Soil and Sludges
Soil has been contaminated with solvents, chemical wastes and radioactive wastes. The primary health threats are exposure to landfill waste and exposure to contaminated groundwater.
Who is Involved
This site is being addressed as both a Federal Facility, with DOE as the lead agency, and as a non-federal site under the responsibility of the University of California, Davis.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
The site is being addressed in stages: initial actions and a long-term remedial phase focusing on groundwater cleanup.
Initial Action: As part of the decontamination and decommissioning of the facility, DOE has removed and shipped offsite over 100 drums of radioactive bioparts; removed, solidified, and shipped offsite about 40,000 gallons of radioactive waste sludge; removed and shipped offsite several radioactive sources; removed and shipped offsite a radioactivity-contaminated tanker trailer; demolished a former waste treatment facility; and decontaminated and surveyed four on-site buildings with radioactive contamination.
DOE has also performed several removal actions: 3,000 cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste was removed from the site as a time-critical removal. Contaminated waste and soil has also been removed from the southwest trenches, the radium and strontium treatment areas, and the waste burial holes along the southern perimeter of the site.
Entire Site: DOE and UC Davis identified a chloroform-contaminated groundwater plume migrating northeast from the site. Beginning in 1998, UC Davis started active groundwater extraction and cleanup is ongoing.
Both DOE and UC Davis have performed additional investigations and have submitted Remedial Investigations. UC Davis was assigned the task of performing a comprehensive Site-Wide Risk Assessment (RA), including an estimate of risk for human health and ecological receptors. The Site-Wide RA was finalized in August 2006. DOE has completed a Feasibility Study and released a Proposed Plan for the DOE areas in October 2008. A DOE Record of Decision (ROD) was signed in December 2009. The UC Davis Feasibility Study Data Gaps Technical Report was completed in February 2010. The Soil Feasibility Study is final. Installation of groundwater extraction wells for the Groundwater Extraction Treatment Study was completed in June 2014. Groundwater extraction began in 2015 and will continue for approximately two years to collect groundwater data for the Groundwater Feasibility Study. Concurrently, UC Davis is conducting a Groundwater Background Concentration Study for chromium and nitrate. Operation of a Density Driven Convection (DDC) treatment for chloroform will continue as water levels allowed.
The LEHR facility is classified under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) as a large quantity generator.
Cleanup Results to Date
The EPA has determined that the Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research/Old Campus Landfill (USDOE) site does not pose an immediate risk to people or the environment while site studies are being planned.
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.
This site is being addressed as both a Federal Facility, with DOE as the lead agency conducting work pursuant to a 1999 Federal Facility Agreement (FFA), and as a non-federal site under the responsibility of the University of California, Davis, pursuant to a 1999 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC).
Documents and Reports
Public Meetings: On February 10, 2015, EPA presented the Proposed Plan to address soil/solid waste and soil gas contamination on the site and record verbal comments at Hoagland Hall on the UC Davis Campus. The public comment period was from January 28, 2015 to February 26, 2015. EPA will memorialize its decision in a Record of Decision (ROD). This report will include a responsiveness summary that addresses verbal and written public comments received. EPA will notify the public when the ROD is available online and at the Site Information Repositories listed below.
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
Yolo County Public Library,
Davis Branch, Reference Desk,
315 East 14th Street,
Shields Library, Reserve Desk,
UC Davis, 95616
DOE maintains records at: www.lm.doe.gov/lehr/Sites.aspx
EPA Site Manager
Mail Code SFD-7-1
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mail Code SFD-6-3
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
Sacramento, CA 95826
11020 Sun Center Drive, #200
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Chris Wright, UCD
Morgantown, WV 26505
UC Davis EH&S
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
After Hours (Emergency Response)