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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: W.R. Grace in Columbia, Maryland

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In July 1992, EPA issued a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permit to W.R. Grace. W.R. Grace conducted extensive investigations of soil, groundwater and surface water throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. They have implemented remedial measures including groundwater recovery and treatment, soil vapor extraction, and waste removal and disposal. The groundwater recovery and treatment system began operation in 1989 and continues operation with five recovery wells leading to the granular activated carbon treatment system.

Cleanup Status

W.R. Grace submitted the Corrective Measures Study (CMS) report in February, 1999. EPA reviewed the CMS report and the Human Health Risk Assessment and this report was accepted on April 5, 2006. A Statement of Basis (SB) was signed by EPA on June 29, 2006. The purpose of the SB was to explain EPA's proposed remedy for the Facility; provide a summary of investigation results used in the remedy selection process, and to solicit public comments on the proposed remedy prior to EPA making its final remedy decision.

With the SB, EPA proposed to remediate groundwater contamination at the Facility through a combination of groundwater treatment and monitoring and monitored natural attenuation. On July 13, 2006, EPA placed an announcement in the Columbia Flier to notify the public of EPA's proposed remedy for the Facility and of the location of the Administrative Record.

The Final Remedy was issued in the Final Decision and Response to Comments (FDRTC) document on September 14, 2006. The Final Remedy will be implemented through a permit modification to the corrective action permit (“Original Permit”) which on its terms expired on August 14, 2002, was administratively continued under 40 C.F.R. § 270.51. EPA issued two subsequent permit modifications in 2007 and 2016, respectively. The 2007 Permit Modification became effective on November 30, 2007 (First Permit Modification) and the 2016 Permit Modification (Second Permit Modification) became effective on January 1, 2016. The Original Permit, as modified by the First and Second Permit Modifications, expired on November 30, 2017. The Original Permit was administratively continued until the Final Permit for the Facility became effective.

EPA issued a Final Permit on May 16, 2018. It became effective on June 14, 2018 and shall remain in effect until June 14, 2028. With the Final permit, the Permittee shall implement a Facility-wide groundwater monitoring program in accordance with the Sampling and Reporting Plan, approved by EPA on February 13, 2017. In addition, the permittee shall abide by the institutional controls which include groundwater use restrictions prohibiting the development of onsite wells at the Facility for drinking water or other domestic uses. The prohibition shall remain in effect for as long as necessary to minimize potential exposure until Groundwater Cleanup Standards for the Facility are demonstrated to be achieved and maintained in the long-term. The Permittee shall continue to maintain assurances of financial responsibility, initially established under the First Permit Modification, for completing the Final Remedy under this Permit as required by Section 3004(u) of RCRA, 42 U.S.C. § 6924(u). Financial assurance was received in September 2008 by an irrevocable trust and letter of credit. The 5-year comprehensive sampling report was submitted on November 14, 2008 and is being reviewed by EPA.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of W.R. Grace, Columbia, Maryland

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W.R. Grace is located in Columbia, Maryland, northeast of Route 32 and north/northwest of Cedar Lane. The facility is approximately 125 acres. The Middle Patuxent River is located just east of the Grace property. The property has been owned and operated by Grace since the 1950s. Until 1997, the facility served as the corporate research and development center, in support of the specialty chemical, building materials, and biomedical components of Grace's business lines. The facility was then referred to as the Washington Research Center, or WRC. In 1997, the specialty chemical unit of Grace, Grace-Davison took over the management of the property, and subsequently relocated their headquarters to the Columbia facility. Today the majority of the buildings are used as offices.

W.R. Grace has worked closely with its two primary adjacent property owners Howard Research and Development Corporation (HRD) which is a subsidiary of The Rouse Company and Howard County. HRD and Howard County have plans to establish a Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA) to cover hundreds of acres of Howard County. Portions of the planned MPEA involve property owned by HRD that is to be deeded over to Howard County. Two of these areas are adjacent to the Grace property.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The contaminants of concern include trichloroethene (TCE), 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane, tetrachlorethene, 1,1-dichloroethene, 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, and trichlorofluoromethane.

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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
    • No onsite wells for drinking water or other domestic use at the Facility. A deed restriction has been used as the mechanism to list the groundwater restriction for successors-in-title to the property. Institutional Controls Established to Property identifying area where onsite groundwater use is not allowed (approximately 44 acres) and the.groundwater restriction area.
    • Enforcement and Permit Tools: Corrective Action Permit requires groundwater pump & treat and monitored natural attenuation, prohibition on potable well installation, requirement to include deed notice Engineering Controls Established - Groundwater Control - Pump and treat system.

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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 Maryland Department of the Environment.

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