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Case Summary: Removal Settlement Addresses Discharge of High pH Water into the North Fork Holston River in Virginia

On August 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Removal Action (Removal Consent Order) with Olin Corporation for a time-critical removal action at a portion of the Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds Superfund site in Saltville, Virginia. Water with a pH of 11.5 or greater is discharging from a former chemical facility into the North Fork Holston River.

The settlement agreement implements a removal action that is intended to abate an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and the environment from high pH water discharging into the river. High pH water can potentially cause eye damage to humans and is pooling in seeps in areas that are readily accessible to the public. High pH water also has a negative impact on aquatic biota.

The removal action includes the placement of riprap intended to create a physical barrier to prevent contact with the seeps of high pH water along the right descending bank of the river at the Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds Superfund site, direct the seeped material into mixing areas to lower the pH toward neutral, and allow for mixing of the seeped material with river water prior to potential human exposure. This will prevent exposure to human beings who might swim or engage in recreational activity in the river and will also improve river ecosystem health.

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Information about Olin Corporation

Olin Corporation is a leading vertically-integrated global manufacturer and distributor of chemical products and a leading U.S. manufacturer of ammunition.  The chemical products produced at its various facilities include chlorine and caustic soda, vinyls, epoxies, chlorinated organics, bleach, and hydrochloric acid.

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Information about the Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds Superfund Site

The Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds Superfund site includes approximately 125 acres located in Saltville, Virginia. Olin Corporation and its predecessors operated chemical plants at the site from 1895 to 1972, including a chlorine plant from 1950 to 1972. Olin Corporation disposed of wastes generated by the chemical manufacturing operations in two on-site disposal areas, Pond 5 and Pond 6. Waste disposal operations contaminated soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater, and caused contaminant accumulation in fish in the river. Groundwater treatment and additional investigations are ongoing. The removal action will address several seeps of high pH water located along the right descending bank of the river. The seeps are pooling in multiple areas that are accessible to the public.

Additional information about the site is available from the Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds Superfund site profile page.

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Summary of the Removal Consent Order

The Removal Consent Order requires the installation of no trespassing signs, the installation of riprap to create a barrier which will prevent contact with the high pH water, and the performance of additional assessments along the right descending bank of the river at the Saltville Waste Disposal Ponds Superfund site to identify and address any additional seep areas with a pH of 11.5 or greater.

Contact Information

For more information, contact

Jared Hautamaki
Attorney Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.  20460

Gwen E. Pospisil
Office of Regional Counsel (3RC41)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 3
1650 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA  19103-2029
(215) 814-2678

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