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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation in Charlottesville, Virginia

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The Facility was a larger property originally owned by Sperry Corporation. The Facility is now a smaller property consisting of 3 parcels, one owned by Northrop-Grumman, another by Costco and the third is a retail parcel (Parcel G).  Unisys Corporation retains the environmental liability for contamination released when Sperry Corporation owned the property.  In January 2008, Unisys Corporation (Unisys) entered into a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Facility Lead Agreement (FLA) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Region III. Unisys agreed to conduct environmental investigations  and if necessary, perform Interim Measures (IM) to remediate contamination. Unisys submitted a RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) Work Plan to EPA to address data gaps from previous site environmental investigations and remedies conducted under VA Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) direction. Field activities commenced in August 2008, and included monitoring well installation, groundwater and soil sampling and potential contaminant source area investigations.

Cleanup Status

Unisys submitted Site Characterization Reports to VDEQ from 1996 to 1998. The data and risk assessment submitted to VDEQ indicated that environmental conditions at the Facility did not present unacceptable risks to human health or the environment provided that restrictions were placed on future use of the properties. VDEQ issued Certificates of Satisfactory Completion of Remediation to Unisys in 2000 and 2002.

Unisys continued to monitor groundwater (GW) to provide more information on the nature and extent of dissolved phase Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) in GW beneath the manufacturing property and surrounding parcels. VDEQ gave notice in February 2008 that the post-certification monitoring requirements were satisfied with Unisys’ entry into EPA’s FLA.

In May 2011, Unisys submitted an Interim Measure workplan to EPA to delineate and remove soil with tetrachloroethylene (PCE) at levels above acceptable risk levels. The soil with contamination was located on an adjoining parcel formerly part of the Facility (now owned by Costco). Unisys delineated, excavated and disposed of contaminated soil off-site at a permitted landfill. As part of the parcel’s redevelopment by Costco, more soil with PCE contamination was found. To eliminate any risk of volatile vapors from soil entering into the planned Costco building, the building was constructed with a vapor mitigation system.

The final phase of Facility remedial activities for the remaining parcels (Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and parcel G) will address residual tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) contamination in groundwater and soil. EPA issued the Final Remedy decision (FDRTC) for the two parcels in July 2019.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Charlottesville, VA

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The Facility is located at 1070 Seminole Trail in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia near the intersection of Seminole Trail (U.S. Highway 29) and Hydraulic Road (State Route 743). In 1955, the property consisted of 81-acres purchased by Sperry Corporation (Sperry). Sperry merged with the Burroughs Corporation in 1986 to form Unisys Corporation (Unisys). Within a year of the merger, Unisys sold the Facility. Since late 1956, a portion of the property has been used for manufacturing navigational instruments and systems under various owners and operators. The Facility consists of the 19-acre manufacturing parcel, currently owned and operated by Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, and approximately 62-acres surrounding the manufacturing parcel which were sold to developers.

Manufacturing processes have included machining, degreasing, soldering, and painting. Gasoline for trucks and oils for generators and recycling were stored in aboveground storage tanks (ASTs) located on the northeast side of the Facility. Several petroleum underground storage tanks (USTs) used for storing heating oil and diesel fuel were located on the southwest side of the Facility. The ASTs and USTs were removed under VDEQ oversight. Three storage tanks remain: a 6,000-gallon UST, a 500-gallon AST for a generator and a 500-gallon AST for oil recycling. A paint pit in the northern portion of the facility was used for waste disposal in the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s and was remediated and closed under VDEQ oversight.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The contaminants of concern found in soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment were tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene and other VOCs. Currently, groundwater is the primary location of VOCs exceeding EPA and VDEQ clean-up levels.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

VDEQ required deed restrictions on the Facility parcels which prohibit groundwater use (except for environmental monitoring and testing). Additional deed restrictions were placed on the current manufacturing parcel and 23-acres to the north and northeast, prohibiting residential use. In August 2008, VDEQ released the residential use prohibition on 1.86-acres of the 23-acres.

The Costco parcel environmental covenant was recorded into Albemarle County, VA land records on September 25, 2018. The covenant restricts  land and groundwater use among other requirements. The covenant is available under ‘the Additional Site Information’ box on this Fact Sheet

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The facility is under continued use.

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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 DEQ.

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