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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Arkema Inc. East Plant Riverview and Wyandotte, MI

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In 1989, EPA and current Site owner, Arkema Inc. (“Arkema”) entered into an Administrative Order on Consent under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Order requires that Arkema investigate the nature and extent of contamination from historic releases and propose clean-up remedies to prevent any unacceptable exposures of contamination to people and the environment.

For the investigation, Arkema sampled soil and groundwater on its property, and the offshore sediment along the Detroit River (Upper Trenton Channel).  The soil sampling data were used to evaluate risk to future industrial and commercial workers at the Site.  Based on the risk evaluation, Arkema completed a Corrective Measures Study (CMS) which identified areas of the property needing remediation based on risk.  The CMS evaluated different ways to clean up the Site.   

The offshore sediment contamination is planned to be cleaned up under the Great Lakes Legacy Act (GLLA) Upper Trenton Channel (UTC) sediment dredging project, which is funded through the GLLA and private partners.  The GLLA is a voluntary partnership program administered by the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO). Arkema is one of the project partners in the GLLA UTC sediment dredging project.  GLNPO and its partners plan to remediate segments of the UTC between the BASF Northworks facility in Wyandotte to the former Bridgestone/Firestone facility in Riverview.  This work is anticipated to begin in 2022 or 2023.  Plans are to use the Arkema East Plant property temporarily as a sediment processing area for dredged sediment for approximately two to three years.  There will be measures in place to prevent any of the dredged material and water from contaminating the Site or re-entering the river.  The water that drains from the sediment will be treated (cleaned) on-site and piped back to the river under a permit or sent to the municipal wastewater treatment plant under a permit for final treatment.  Please visit Detroit River Area of Concern and the GLLA for information.

Cleanup Status

Environmental Indicators HelpEnvironmental Indicators Achieving the two environmental indicators-"Current Human Exposures Under Control" and "Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control"-is the near-term goal of the Corrective Action Program. EPA has identified 1,714 facilities (called the RCRA Cleanup Baseline) that warrant attention in the near-term. By 2005, the Agency expects human exposures to be under control at 95% of these facilities and migration of contaminated groundwater to be under control at 70% of these facilities. Completed.  Environmental Indicator (EI) determinations assess Site conditions using available data at the time of the evaluation.  One purpose of the EIs is to determine whether any immediate intervention such as an  interim measure is needed to protect people and the environment.  In 2005, EPA determined that current human exposures to contamination and migration of contaminated groundwater were under control at the Site.   

Interim Remedial Measure for Halowax Containment.  Based on early investigation results, Arkema constructed the Halowax Area (Area 17) Interim Remedial Measure in 2000 (expanded in 2006). The interim remedial measure is a key remedy to prevent further releases of contamination into the Detroit River and the adjacent property to the north.  The remedy  continues to operate at the Site. 

The Halowax Area remedial system is designed to contain and collect contaminated groundwater and Halowax, a chemical liquid that (like oil) does not mix with water.  Before the remedial system was constructed, contaminants which had been released into the ground historically (when the property was used for chemical manufacturing), traveled  north and east underground through the adjacent property (the former BASF South Works property which is currently Wyandotte Shores Golf Course) and into the Detroit River.  Subsurface contamination is currently contained by a 700-foot combination sheetpile wall/slurry wall running from the river westward along Arkema’s northern boundary with the Wyandotte Shores Golf Club and by a 400-foot seawall along the western Detroit River shoreline.  The barriers are anchored into a thick clay layer at approximately 20-30 feet below ground surface.  The remedial system collects the Halowax for off-Site disposal and pre-treats contaminated groundwater on-Site before it is discharged to the municipal wastewater treatment system, under a permit.   (See the “Reports and Documents” link above to read the IRM operational reports). 

Other Interim Remedial Measures and Groundwater Monitoring

In 1994, Arkema cleaned up two contaminated ponds on the Site.  Other interim remedial measures completed during the early 1990’s include the removal of underground tank liquids, obsolete infrastructure and debris, and the filing of deed restrictions.  Currently, Arkema is monitoring Site-wide groundwater conditions through a system of monitoring wells. For more information, please visit Documents, Photos, and Graphics.

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Site Description

The 90-acre Arkema East Plant Site (Site or property) spans the cities of Riverview and Wyandotte, Michigan, along the shoreline of the Detroit River.  Various chemical companies owned and/or operated on the Site property from 1898 until 1985 when a former owner, the Pennwalt Corporation, closed and demolished its chemical plant there.  Two small buildings remain on the Site -- the former water intake shed on the shoreline and the groundwater treatment building on the northeast corner of the property.  The northeast corner is where contaminated groundwater and an oily contaminant called Halowax are contained and collected in an underground system. Thereafter, the contaminated groundwater is pre-treated and discharged through the municipal wastewater treatment system under a permit and the Halowax is removed for off-Site disposal at a permitted facility (see Interim Remedial Measure, below).  The remaining area of the 90-acre property is vacant of buildings but has some trees and plants.   The Site is zoned for industrial/commercial use.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The contaminants primarily associated with risk at the Arkema Site include benzo-a-pyrene, dioxin/furan compounds, tentatively identified organic compounds, chloroform, chlorinated naphthalene, and Halowax.    

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

The Site is currently restricted to industrial/commercial land use.  Groundwater is prohibited from being used for drinking water.  The Detroit River has a State fish consumption advisory for mercury, PCBs, and dioxin from multiple industrial sources.

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Site Responsiblity at this Facility

Arkema Inc. is completing RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility under the direction of EPA Region 5.

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