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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Ashland Specialty Ingredients (Formerly: Hercules Incorporated - Hopewell Plant) in Hopewell, Virginia

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In 2000, Hercules and the EPA entered into a Facility Lead Agreement (FLA) for the implementation of Corrective Actions under Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

    Cleanup Status

    Hercules submitted the RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) Summary Report in November 2011. The RFI Summary Report includes the Human Health Risk Assessment and the Baseline Ecological Risk Assessment as Attachments A and B respectively. EPA approved the RCRA Facility Investigation Summary Report in a letter dated March 27, 2012. Hercules submitted the Corrective Measures Study in April 2014. EPA prepared a Statement of Basis, which documents the proposed remedy for the site. The Statement of Basis went out for public comment during the month of June. The Final Decision and Response to Comments (FDRTC) was signed by EPA's Director of Land and Chemicals Division on July 22, 2015. The selected remedy calls for Institutional controls, restriction on groundwater use and continual maintenance of the existing security fence. Hercules will use the Virginia Uniform Environmental Covenant Act (UECA) to link the institutional controls to the property.

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      Site Description

      Interactive Map of Ashland Specialty Ingredients (Formerly: Hercules Incorporated - Hopewell Plant) in Hopewell, Virginia 

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      The Hercules Aqualon site occupies a 390-acre parcel of land in Hopewell, Virginia and employs about 400 local residents. Hercules purchased the property in 1926 but the site has been used for industrial purposes since 1912 under various owners/operators. The Hercules Hopewell Plant is one of the largest cellulose derivative production facilities in the world. All of the finished products are based on cellulose, a raw material that comes from trees or cotton. The cellulose is swollen with sodium hydroxide (caustic) and reacted with one or more chemicals, depending on the product being manufactured. The resulting product is then purified, dried, and packaged.

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      Contaminants at this Facility

      Several organic and inorganic contaminants have been detected in ground water at the site. The contaminants of most concern include diethyl ether, tert butyl alcohol, 1,4-dioxane, and 2-butoxyethanol. Soil investigations have shown several organic and inorganic contaminants at several solid waste management units.

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      Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

      Institutional /Engineering Control Summary
      Restrictions or Controls that Address: Yes No
      Groundwater Use
      Residential Use
      Vapor Intrusion
      Capped Area(s)
      Other Engineering Controls
      Other Restrictions

      Institutional Controls include:

      • Groundwater can only be used for monitoring and no wells can be constructed on the site.
      • The site cannot be used for residential purposes.
      •  All excavation, earth moving activities are prohibited unless authorized by the EPA.
      • A vapor instrusion systems shall be maintained round the groundwater contaminated plume.
      • The soil cap covers over SWMU 5 (Landfill #156 and old Landfill) shall be maintained.

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      Land Reuse Information at this Facility

      The facility is under continued use.

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      Site Responsiblity at this Facility

      RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under the direction of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality with assistance from the EPA Region 3.

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