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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: IBM Corporation in Manassas, Virginia

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Cleanup Status

In 1989, EPA and IBM entered into a Consent Order, requiring IBM to evaluate cleanup options. In 1990, EPA selected the Final Remedy for cleanup. The Remedy requires continued on-site soil/rock vapor extraction and continued recovery and treatment of contaminated groundwater.  Chlorinated volatile organic compounds (cVOCs), primarily tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is removed from groundwater and vapor using carbon absorption. The treatment systems are monitored and upgraded as needed.

EPA’s Environmental Indicator analysis found that potential human exposures to contamination onsite and off-site are ‘under control,’ and that groundwater contamination in the local and regional deep plume has been delineated and contained. The local public water system provides drinking water from a surface water source, and groundwater is not used as a water supply source.

The primary Facility-related contaminant is tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE) or perc. There are lesser amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE), and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene (cis-1,2-DCE) present. These chemicals are classified as chlorinated volatile organic compounds (cVOCs) and were used as solvents, degreasers and in manufacturing processes at the Facility. CVOCs were discovered on- and off-site in soil/rock vapor and groundwater. IBM installed vapor and groundwater recovery and treatment systems for on and off-site. Recently, IBM expanded the existing recovery/treatment systems to capture more contamination in the shallow subsurface soil/rock and groundwater zones by Building 101 (on-site) and along the northeastern property boundary with the residential Bristoe Station community.

IBM uses six on- and off-site pumping wells to recover contaminated groundwater (GW) and removes cVOCs by pumping the water through carbon absorption tanks. To collect subsurface contaminated vapor and groundwater from soil and rock, IBM uses vapor extraction wells (VEWs) on-site. The vacuum created by the on-site VE systems is sufficient to draw vapor from the subsurface onsite and from the off-site McRae Court neighborhood. In February 2011, IBM began off-site GW and vapor investigations in and around the McRae Court neighborhood, located in the Bristoe Station development.  GW and vapor implant wells were installed outside of McRae Court townhomes. The investigation results were reported to EPA in IBM’s “Interim Report of Findings dated July 2011” by Sanborn, Head and Associates. The Report documented that Facility-related cVOCs were present in the McRae Court area in soil/rock vapor and groundwater at various depths beneath the surface. The Interim Report is posted on Additional Site Information.

In June 2012, more GW and vapor wells were installed in the McRae Court neighborhood to further delineate and characterize contamination. The data and findings are posted at Additional Site Information ("Environmental Investigation Data Report", dated December  2012 and "12-Month Monitoring Data Report", dated January  2013).

In February 2013, IBM conducted indoor air monitoring in eleven participating homes in McRae Court. The site-related compounds (cVOCs) were not found in indoor air at levels indicating a risk to health. The cVOCs found were considered to be within background levels typical for residential structures. The data and findings of this investigation are in the “Summary Report or Indoor Air Sampling, August 2013” at Additional Site Information.

 Vapor and GW sampling results are reported to EPA annually.

Cleanup - Background

In 1978, IBM began GW monitoring and found chlorinated solvents in GW. Specifically, PCE, TCE, 1,2-DCE and TCA were found. As a result, IBM completed the following:

IBM removed the suspected sources of contamination by removing above ground and underground storage tanks that contained PCE, excavated and removed associated contaminated soil closed a waste solvent pipe between two buildings, and ) immobilized fluoride found in soil in one area.

IBM installed 49 on- and 45 off-site wells. GW treatment began on-site in 1985. After local approvals were obtained, off-site GW treatment began in 1997. The PCE plume had migrated off-site towards a public well in the Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) system. IBM installed a treatment system at the public well in 1985, and in 2001, the PWCSA discontinued use of the well. IBM leases the well for use as part of the contaminated GW recovery system.

IBM installed an on-site vapor extraction system (VES) in the Building 101 area and at the IBM/Bristoe Station property line. The VES consists of vapor and vapor and GW shallow and deep extraction wells, with a treatment system.

In 2007, IBM re-characterized the extent of the PCE GW plume, based on two decades of data. The ‘Groundwater Characterization Report (March 2008)’ provided data showing the extent of PCE in GW, also showing the plume as contained and shrinking. The pump and treatment system have been effective in achieving this milestone and will continue to operate until clean-up goals are met.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of IBM Corporation, Manassas, VA

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In 1969, IBM began manufacturing electronic components in Building 101 at their 600-acre facility. In 1975, IBM ceased manufacturing operations at Building 101 and in 1994, ceased all manufacturing at the facility. In 1996, IBM sold the Facility. Other businesses are currently located on the property. IBM retains Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action responsibility for the investigation and clean-up of past releases.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The primary contaminant in soil, soil and rock vapor and GW is perchloroethylene (PCE), with lesser amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE), and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene (cDCE). PCE and TCE are considered likely human carcinogens (cancer causing), with other adverse non-cancer health effects, depending on the amount of the chemical ingested, inhaled or in contact with skin over time. The cVOC cDCE is considered as a non-carcinogen, but can cause adverse health effects, depending on dosage over time.

The EPA’s maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) or maximum allowable levels established for public water supplies for PCE and TCE is 5 parts per billion (ppb). For cDCE, the MCL is 70 ppb. The treated ground water discharged from IBM’s treatment system meets EPA’s drinking water standards,  and is not used as drinking water.

EPA has established inhalation levels for PCE, TCE and cDCE for indoor settings. Tests of the indoor air in Building 101 showed that by maintaining positive pressure in the building using the heating and cooling system, the indoor air meets EPA’s risk-based levels for acceptable risk.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Groundwater use for public water supply was discontinued in the area north of the former IBM facility in 2001. The Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) began providing water from other regional water companies in September 2002. IBM uses the PWCSA well (PW-07) (located north of the former IBM facility) and other wells to control the groundwater plume by withdrawing and treating contaminated water before discharging to local streams. IBM monitors ground water quality and water levels throughout and beyond the contaminated plume.

Land and groundwater uses are restricted for Building 101 and 102 areas through a ‘Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions’ that was recorded by Prince William County records in October 2018.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

IBM no longer owns the property. The property is currently being used for non-residential use by other owners/operators IBM continues to retain responsibility for RCRA corrective action clean-up for the facilities.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

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

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