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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Former Elf Atochem Atofina Site in Bensalem, Pennsylvania

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Cleanup Status

Elf Atochem completed a preliminary evaluation of the soil and groundwater contamination at several areas of the facility in April 1996. Bensalem Redevelopment LP (BRLP), which is now known as Waterside Bensalem Development, Inc. (WBDI), completed a site-wide characterization in February 2004. A second round of facility-wide groundwater sampling was conducted in May 2004. A Remedial Investigation/Risk Assessment Report that summarized the above fieldwork (with the exception of the second round of groundwater sampling) was submitted to EPA in May 2004. Based on the Remedial Investigation/Risk Assessment (RI/RA) Report, additional soil and groundwater samples were collected in September/October 2004 to further characterize site conditions. A Final Characterization Report was submitted to EPA in late November 2004. The site characterizations indicated that some of the site soils and groundwater have been impacted by contaminants including chlorinated organics, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides and arsenic. Based on the analytical results of the site characterizations, BRLP submitted a Remedial Action Workplan (RAWP) to EPA in October 2005. The plan called for the removal of soils containing contaminants at concentrations above the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) Act II cleanup levels. EPA provided comments on the RAWP to BRLP in December 2005. After several rounds of discussions, EPA approved of the RAWP on May 16, 2006

Site remediation activities began in the fall of 2006 with the demolition of Bldg. Nos. B-1, B-2/3 and B-5. The remaining on-site building, Bldg. No. B-4 was subsequently demolished in August 2007. Two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) tons of crushed concrete from the demolished buildings was reused as fill material in the former basements of the razed buildings and at other locations on the site. Remedial action has been completed at all of the identified areas of concern (AOCs), including two AOCs found during the cleanup. The two new AOCs are an area of soil contamination found underneath Bldg. B-2's concrete pad and two former No. 6 fuel oil underground storage tanks located along the southern corner of Bldg. B-3. The remedial action included the removal of approximately 43,700 tons of contaminated soils. The draft Final Remediation Report was submitted to EPA/PADEP in September 2007 and after several rounds of comments, EPA approved the report on September 12, 2008.

A Final Decision was also issued on September 12, 2008, which calls for the continued monitoring of groundwater and soil gas beneath the Facility along with the implementation of institutional controls as specified in Environmental Covenant pursuant to the Pennsylvania Uniform Environmental Covenants Act. The Environmental Covenant includes the installation of a vapor barrier beneath all new on-site structures to prevent the migration of organic vapors from groundwater into indoor air space and Facility-wide restriction of groundwater usage for any purpose. The vapor barrier design was approved on October 2, 2009.

Based on the available historical site information, the former Elf Atochem facility achieved a "Yes" determination for the Current Human Exposures Under Control Environmental Indicator (EI) in August 2004. A "Yes" determination for the Groundwater Under Control Environmental Indicator (EI) was issued in January 2008.

WBDI plans to redevelop the site as a mixed-use area, including residential space, commercial space, and greenspace. As of the date of this update, the site is relatively in the same condition as it was at the time of the Final Decision. A temporary sales trailer was placed in the northeast corner of the property near the Delaware River in 2014. WBDI began construction on two adjacent parcels of land to the south of the Facility (Parcels B & C) in 2015. Parcels B & C, which have no activity use limitations, will be developed in separate phases with no overlap with the construction slated for the former Elf Atochem property (Parcel A).  At the time of this update, 115 homes have been sold and 85 of them have settled in Parcels B & C.  There has been some earth movement along the frontage areas of Parcel A with construction scheduled to begin in late 2018/early 2019.

EPA conducted a Long-Term Stewardship (LTS) Inspection at the Facility on April 2, 2014.  The purpose of the inspection was to ensure that the activity and use limitations contained in the executed environmental covenant were still in effect and remain protective of human health and the environment.  No issues of concern were identified as a result of the inspection.  A copy of the Inspection Report can be found in the documents section.

Quarterly groundwater monitoring conducted in 2016 continues to show the presence of certain chlorinated volatile organic compounds (tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride) at a few well locations above their respective EPA maximum contaminant levels (MCLs).  The observed concentrations do not pose a risk to the Delaware River or to future occupants of the property because of the activity and use limitations currently in place and the engineering controls to be installed on all future buildings on Parcel A.

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Site Description

Interactive map of Former Elf Atochem Atofina Site, Bensalem, PA

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The Facility is located on State Road in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Although the Facility is now inactive, it was the site of several manufacturing operations beginning with a shipbuilding company in 1917. In the 1940s, the site was owned by the U.S. Government and was used for sulfuric acid, hydrogen fluoride and cryolite production, as well as aluminum refining. From the 1950s through the 1990s, site operations included the blending of chemicals for cleaning and lubricating agents for the laundry and metal working industries, and the repackaging of bulk materials such as refrigerants and hydrochloric acid. In 1997, all manufacturing operations were terminated, equipment was removed from the property and the buildings were decommissioned.

Waterside Bensalem Development, Inc. (WBDI) borders the Delaware River and is located in an industrial/ commercial area. The facility is situated within an area designated as a State Enterprise Zone. Designated enterprise zones are given priority consideration to facilitate identified business investment and job creation opportunities.  In May 2005, EPA awarded a $250,000 Brownfields Grant to the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority (BCRA) to assist in the cleanup of this property. BCRA was also awarded a $1 million Brownfield loan in August 2005 from EPA to remediate the site. WBDI is in the process of redeveloping the site as a mixed-use area, including residential space, commercial space, and greenspace.  When finished, the three parcels comprising Waterside will include over 600 homes (townhomes/condominiums), more than 40,000 square feet of commercial/retail/office space, and a marina.

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Contaminants at this Facility

Site soils historically have been found to contain PAHs, PCBs, pesticides and arsenic at concentrations above both EPA risk based concentrations (RBCs) and PADEP Act II medium specific concentrations (MSCs). All soils containing concentrations of contaminants above the MSCs have been removed from the site. The groundwater at the site historically contained elevated levels of a few chlorinated organic chemicals and a few metals. The groundwater is not used as a drinking water source. Groundwater does discharge into the Delaware River; however, extensive modeling has shown the discharge does not negatively impact that water body.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

The Environmental Covenant includes the installation of a vapor barrier beneath all new on-site structures to prevent the migration of organic vapors from groundwater into indoor air space and Facility-wide restriction of groundwater usage for any purpose. The document may be viewed in its entirety in the "reports and documents" section.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The site has an unused parcel and also a reused parcel.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

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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