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Case Summary: Third-Party Agreement Supports Cleanup and Redevelopment at the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Study Area

On July 27, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) entered into a bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) agreement with Warmington Fairchild Associates, LLC (Warmington Fairchild) at the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Study Area in Mountain View, California. Under the BFPP agreement, Warmington Fairchild agreed to conduct cleanup actions at three parcels within the MEW Study Area, which will significantly and rapidly reduce subsurface contamination at the properties so that redevelopment, including construction of homes, can move forward in a manner protective of human health for future occupancy.

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Information About Warmington Fairchild Associates, LLC

Warmington Fairchild Associates, LLC, a California company, is located in Costa Mesa, California. In 2015, Warmington Fairchild purchased property as a BFPP within the MEW Study Area to redevelop it for residential homes. Warmington Fairchild represents it qualifies for the bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) protection from Superfund liability at the property. To receive the liability protection under Superfund, a BFPP must perform "all appropriate inquiries" prior to acquiring the property and meet other BFPP requirements such as providing certain notices, taking “reasonable steps” with regard to site contamination, providing cooperation, assistance, and access for response actions, and complying with institutional controls.

Information About the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Superfund Study Area

Located in Mountain View, Calif., the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Study Area was home to several manufacturing and industrial facilities, including facilities for semiconductor and other electronics manufacturing and metal finishing. While in operation, these facilities required the storage, handling, and use of a variety of chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The MEW Study Area is comprised of three National Priorities List (NPL) sites:

During operation of these facilities, chemicals were released impacting soil and groundwater. In 1989, EPA signed a record of decision (ROD) to address soil and groundwater contamination both at source facilities and throughout the regional groundwater plume. In 2010, EPA amended the 1989 ROD selecting mitigation measures to address vapor intrusion into buildings overlying shallow subsurface contamination. The 1989 ROD and 2010 ROD Amendment are being implemented by the MEW potentially responsible parties (PRPs) under EPA oversight pursuant to a 1991 consent decree and 1990 unilateral administrative order and amendments.

In 2012, site contamination was found to have impacted areas outside of the contiguous groundwater plume already being addressed under the 1989 ROD and 2010 ROD Amendment.  This contamination appears to have been disposed of into the sewer system, where it accumulated and leaked out along the sewer lines. The property owned by Warmington Fairchild is impacted by this part of the Study Area.

More information is available on the MEW Study Area Web page.

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Summary of the BFPP Agreement

EPA encourages the cleanup and reuse of contaminated properties by BFPPs and other third parties. When a BFPP is willing to perform cleanup work at a site of federal interest which exceeds their obligations to maintain their BFPP status, EPA and DOJ may enter into an agreement with the BFPP to address any liability concerns that may arise from the BFPP’s performance of the cleanup work.

When recent sampling indicated that contamination on the property purchased by Warmington Fairchild was high enough that the vapor intrusion remedy may not be able to reliably prevent contaminant exposure in indoor air in overlying residences, EPA, DOJ and Warmington Fairchild entered into a BFPP agreement for cleanup work at the property. Under the BFPP agreement, Warmington Fairchild agreed to conduct cleanup activities to more quickly lower trichloroethene (TCE) soil gas contaminant concentrations to reduce potential human health risks from exposure through the vapor intrusion pathway. These activities will include soil vapor extraction and in-situ enhanced reductive dechlorination groundwater treatment of TCE in targeted “hot spot” areas. Lowering these shallow contaminant levels should reduce TCE source strength sufficiently that vapor intrusion mitigation measures on the property will reliably prevent vapor intrusion into overlying buildings at concentrations posing potential short-term or long-term health concerns.

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Contact Information

For more information, contact

Bethany Dreyfus
Assistant Regional Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 9
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 972-3886

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