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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: BASF Corporation - Cleveland Ohio

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EPA used its authority under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, known as RCRA, to issue an administrative order to BASF for corrective action at the Harvard Avenue site.

    Cleanup Status

    Under U.S. EPA’s Corrective Action administrative order, BASF Corporation (BASF) must investigate the type and magnitude of contamination on and near its property and complete any cleanup actions identified by U.S. EPA. Currently, BASF is investigating soil, groundwater, waste piles, the Cuyahoga River and Big Creek for contamination.  

    During the first phase of investigation completed in 2016, BASF installed 150 soil borings and sampled groundwater in 33 monitoring wells.  Laboratory analyses reported elevated levels of metals and organic chemicals   in the soil and groundwater. During the second phase of investigation during 2018, BASF will continue soil and groundwater sampling and also sample river sediment and water and the soils along the shorelines.      

    When the investigation is completed, BASF will prepare risk assessments using the sampling data and propose clean-up remedies to U.S. EPA.   After a public comment period, U.S. EPA will determine the remedies needed to make the property safe for industrial or commercial re-use.

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      Site Description

      The 25-acre BASF site is along the shore of the Cuyahoga River at its confluence with Big Creek, around 3.5 miles southwest of downtown Cleveland. From 1905 to 1998, former owner Harshaw Chemical Company processed and manufactured chemicals, then ceased operations. BASF purchased the property in 2006 but never used the location for manufacturing.     BASF demolished the  buildings in 2015.

      The former chemical company was built on fill material overlying glacial till and shale bedrock. The bedrock is between 2 and 40 feet below the surface. The surrounding land is primarily industrial and commercial. 

      BASF operates a groundwater recovery and treatment system to control a nickel-contaminated plume on the western side of the site. A plume is a mass of polluted underground water. The system was installed under a legal decree independent of U.S. EPA’s Corrective Action administrative order.   

      In 2015, under the Clean Water Act, U.S. EPA required BASF to cease releasing water from its outfalls, which did not have a permit.

      The site is also under the jurisdiction of a special government program called the Formerly Used Sites Remedial Action Program, or FUSRAP, administered by the Army Corps of Engineers.   FUSRAP oversees sites with legacy radionuclide contamination from WW II and the Cold War years, when companies researched radionuclides and processed uranium under government contract.  The  Harshaw company  worked with radionuclides from 1944 to around 1953. Much but not all of the radionuclide contamination is at the former “Building G-1” area, which is now owned by the Chevron Corporation.   

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      Contaminants at this Facility

      Elevated levels of metals, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in soil and groundwater at the site. Investigation of site contamination is ongoing.

      As mentioned above, the location is also contaminated with radionuclides, which are under the jurisdiction of the FUSRAP which is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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      Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

      Security fence and guard, prohibition on using groundwater for drinking water.

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      Land Reuse Information at this Facility

      Planned industrial/commercial redevelopment.

      The nearby recreational “Tow Path Trail” may be extended to an area close to the site in the near future.    

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      Site Responsiblity at this Facility

      BASF Corp. is responsible for the site cleanup under a RCRA 3008(h) Unilateral Administrative Order, effective March 2010. 

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