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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Solutia Nitro Site (Formerly: Flexsys, Solutia, Monsanto) in Nitro, West Virginia

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In March 2002, an inspector from West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Hazardous Waste group discovered a waste material on the riverbank of the Kanawha River while doing riverbank inspections.  A shallow slide near the toe of the riverbank exposed a thin lens of discolored material that was intermingled with a black tar-like residue.  The new release was located outside the fenced limits of the production facility, which required an expedited containment and remediation plan.  Solutia addressed the new release under the existing Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action permit, with oversight of both EPA and WVDEP, by installing a containment structure in the Kanawha River to prevent migration of contaminants during removal, completing test pits to determine the extent of the material on the bank, and excavating the contaminated material from the area.

Cleanup Status

Representatives from EPA, WVDEP and Solutia met in August 2002, to discuss the status of the corrective action activities and the planned future investigations at the Nitro facility.  During the meeting, Solutia committed to perform work to meet the Environmental Indicators, namely controlling current human exposures and the migration of contaminated groundwater, at the facility by 2005.  Subsequently, in late 2002, Solutia completed a supplemental sediment and surface water field sampling event to provide coverage along the entire facility riverbank.  Work completed in 2003 included performing a site-wide groundwater collection event using Geoprobe direct push technology, as well as collecting soil and groundwater samples from the Past Disposal Area (a former waste disposal location).  The results of the site-wide groundwater investigation were submitted in a December 2003 report.  The results of the Past Disposal Area investigation were submitted in June 2004.  Solutia has prepared an RFI work plan to address additional site characterization.  EPA is presently reviewing the work plan.  Construction elements of the Interim Measures Work Plan for Soils Stabilization have been completed.

Solutia completed the installation of 34 monitoring wells in March of 2005 as part of the Expanded RCRA Facility Investigation (ERFI).  The trichloroethylene (TCE) groundwater pumping and the oxygen injection system operations have been decommissioned so that groundwater in the area affected by these systems can be accurately evaluated.  Groundwater sampling for the ERFI began during April 2005 and is still in progress.

Solutia has indicated that on-site remediation activities should continue according to schedule. Demolition of the process area began in June 2004 and was completed in June 2005. The transition of the facility from Flexsys to Solutia was completed in November 2005. Solutia is presently evaluating the surface water management program for the facility. Solutia completed additional sampling during 2006 to better characterize the site. An Expanded RCRA Facility Investigation Report (ERFI) was submitted to EPA in February 2007. Solutia responded to comments from EPA/WVDEP on the ERFI and the report was finalized in April 2008. Based on comments regarding the ERFI, Solutia installed additional groundwater monitoring wells and collected additional groundwater samples. Solutia submitted a draft Interim Measures Work Plan in November 2009 that EPA and WVDEP reviewed and approved. Solutia has recently completed the construction of barrier walls for specific areas on the site property and is currently capping other areas of the property. This work is being completed as a major component of the Interim Measures Work. The site capping should be completed in early 2016 and a waste water treatment plant for treating the captured on-site groundwater should be installed and operational by the summer of 2016.

In December 2016, EPA issued is Corrective Action Final Decision with Controls for the Facility. EPA’s Final Remedy for the Facility consists of the isolation and containment of contaminated groundwater source areas. Contaminated groundwater from within the groundwater containment source areas will be pumped, treated and discharged under the Facility’s West Virginia NPDES permit to achieve an inward gradient in each groundwater containment area. The Final Remedy also includes groundwater monitoring, installation of impermeable and permeable vegetated soil covers to address Facility soils, and riverbank stabilization with riprap.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Solutia Nitro Site, Nitro, West Virginia

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The Solutia Inc. Nitro Plant is located on the east bank of the Kanawha River, approximately one-half mile north of the City of Nitro in Putnam County, West Virginia in a heavily industrialized region.  The site encompasses approximately 116 acres.   Production areas, warehouse buildings, parking, or open storage had covered about 60 percent of the site. The facility is bordered to the east and northeast by commercial properties on State Route 25, to the south by industrial property, to the west and northwest by the Kanawha River, and Interstate Highway 64 divides the facility.

From 1918 to 1921, the site manufactured explosives including “nitro-powder”to support World War I.  When the explosives facility closed, the site was purchased and used for a variety of industries.  In 1929, Monsanto acquired a portion of the facility that was owned by the Rubber Services Company, which manufactured chloride, phosphate, and phenol compounds.   Operation and management of the site were transferred to Flexsys America, LP, a limited partnership, in 1995 and, by 1997, Monsanto spun off its interest in the Nitro facility to Solutia Inc., and later operations ceased. The total facility has been demolished and is mostly gravel covered.

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Contaminants at this Facility

The main contaminants in the groundwater include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). However, groundwater in the vicinity of the plant is not currently used as a drinking water source.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

    Presently, a perimeter fence encloses the site and prevents public access.

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    Land Reuse Information at this Facility

    The site has unused and continued use parcels.

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    Site Responsibility at this Facility

    RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility have been conducted under the direction of EPA Region 3 with assistance from the WVDEP.

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