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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Fisher Scientific Company in Indiana, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

EPA issued its public notice for the Fisher Scientific Company (Fisher or the Facility) Statement of Basis in the July 31, 2018 Indiana Gazette newspaper.  The Statement of Basis described EPA’s proposed remedy for the Facility.  The proposed remedy included the use of institutional controls to ensure that the Facility property continues to be used for non-residential purposes and prohibits groundwater usage for potable, agricultural or commercial purposes.   No comments were received during the 30-day public comment period, which ended on August 30, 2018.  Therefore, the Agency’s Final Decision is unchanged from the remedy proposed in the Statement of Basis.

Fisher received its “Yes” determination for Current Human Exposures Under Control Environmental Indicator on September 29, 2016 and its “Yes” determination for Migration of Contaminated Groundwater Under Control Environmental Indicator on September 30, 2016.

Cleanup History

From 1965 through approximately 1980, a drain in the paint storage room at the southern end of the Building is believed to have been used to collect spills of paint waste and solvents and discharged into a dry well of unknown dimensions just outside the Building.  In the summer of 1984, during the installation of a containment tank to replace the dry well, subsurface excavation revealed paint resin and solvent odors emanating from the soils.  Initial analyses of soil samples from the excavated area indicated the presence of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and xylenes.  The dry well was excavated, sampled and backfilled with clean fill in December 1985.  Groundwater in the vicinity of the dry well was monitored in a network of four wells south of the Building for more than 10 years.  No contaminants of concern were ever detected in any of the four monitoring wells. 

In 1994, during the installation of a new sewer line through the parking lot area, steel shelving, pieces of table tops, transite, empty bottles and cans, pieces of plate glass, construction materials, concrete wire, and an unknown fine gray material were unearthed.  The gray material was found to contain lead concentrations in excess of PADEP’s Cleanup Standards for Contaminated Soils (CSCSs).  Lower concentrations of barium and tetrachloroethene (PCE) below PADEP’s CSCSs were also detected in the gray material.  The gray material was excavated and disposed of off-site in December 1995 and the area was backfilled with clean fill in January 1996.  PADEP stated in a letter to Fisher dated March 11, 1996 that the site was approved in accordance with the provisions of the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (Act 2) and no further action was required.

In the early to mid-1990s, volatile organic compound (VOC) groundwater contamination was discovered beneath the Gorell facility (a.k.a. Season All Industries), another RCRA Corrective Action Facility, located directly north of the Fisher Facility across Indian Springs Road.  EPA has determined that groundwater contamination had migrated south of the Gorell facility onto the northern portion of the Fisher Facility.   The Gorell facility operated a ground water recovery and treatment system from March 1996 until it went bankrupt in 2012.  Trichloroethylene (TCE) concentrations had decreased beneath the Fisher Facility from greater than 400 µg/L prior to the groundwater treatment system to less than 50 µg/L in monitoring well MW-32D at the time of the bankruptcy.  Groundwater beneath the Fisher property has not been tested since the treatment system was shut down and VOC concentrations have likely rebounded in the northern portion of the Facility property.  EPA will further assess the groundwater beneath the Fisher Facility as part of the RCRA Corrective Action program’s investigation at the Gorell facility. 

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Site Description

Interactive map of Fisher Scientific Company, Indiana, PA

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Fisher operated its Laboratory Equipment Division on this 14-acre White Township, Indiana County, PA property from 1958 through 2006.  The Facility manufactured various laboratory instruments and apparatuses such as clamps, burners, centrifuges, stirrers, ovens, incubators, hot plates and water baths inside a 160,000 square foot building (Building).  Fisher left the Facility property in 2006 shortly after it ceased operations.  The Facility property is currently owned by 3-Ring Realty, which leases portions of the Building to active tenants.

Because manufacturing took place inside the Building, the concrete slab provided an adequate barrier to prevent releases to the soils or groundwater below.  The only RCRA regulated units at the Facility were Hazardous Waste Storage Areas Nos. 1 and 2.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) approved Fisher’s April 1992 closure report for those storage areas in August 1992, finding that they had been properly closed and decontaminated in accordance with Fisher’s earlier submitted closure plan. 

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Contaminants at this Facility

 Contmaminants of concern were Trichloroethylene, (TCE), Xylene and Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) and lead.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

EPA’s Statement of Basis proposes institutional controls that will ensure the Facility property is used for non-residential purposes only and will prohibit the use of groundwater beneath the Facility property for potable, agricultural or commercial purposes.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The site is being reused.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under the direction of EPA Region 3.

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