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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Union Carbide Corporation - South Charleston Plant in South Charleston, West Virginia

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Cleanup Status

Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) entered into a Facility Lead agreement with EPA on December 15, 1999 for conducting corrective action at its South Charleston Facility. UCC has evaluated, addressed via Interim Measures, and provided documentation to EPA for areas of known potential for off-site impacts. The initial RFI was conducted in 2002 and 2003. The RFI Report was submitted to EPA and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) in December 2003.

From 2006 through 2009 RFI work focused on a sitewide approach to fill remaining data gaps for soil, groundwater, and the Kanawha River. The facility Current Conditions Report was submitted to EPA in 2010 documenting the completion of facility investigation work for the purpose of defining nature and extent.

All risk assessment activities for the facility have been completed except for a risk assessment anticipated to further evaluate the ecological risk associated with pore water exceedances in the Middle Mainland Area, Chlorohydrin Area, and Chlorobenzene Area 2.

Active remediation is being conducted at the facility. Ten “remediation areas” have been established across the facility and prioritized to facilitate management of remediation. The interim remedies implemented at the facility are:

1. Construction of an air sparge/soil vapor extraction (AS/SVE) system in the Chlorohydrin Area was completed and operation of the system began in 2011.

2. Construction of an AS/SVE system in the Middle Island Area “Second Source” was completed and operation of the system began in 2014.

3. Construction of an AS/SVE system in the Chlorobenzene Area was completed and operation of the system began in 2015.

4. Two additional remedies were constructed in 2017:  Insitu solidification/stabilization was completed in the Lower Island Area to address a buried tar-like material and an aerobic cometabolic biodegradation via co-metabolite enhanced biosparging remedy was constructed in the Chlorohydrin Area to address a portion of the groundwater plume immediately downgradient of the AS/SVE system. In addition, air purifying units were installed in one building to address naphthalene exceedances in indoor air.

5. Construction of the Middle Island groundwater containment system was completed and operation of the system began in 2018. A treatment wetland is used to pre-treat the groundwater before discharging to the South Charleston wastewater treatment plant. 

A small intermittent sheen was observed in July 2017 on the back channel of the Kanawha River near the Middle Island Area. A sediment investigation was completed in September 2017 and November 2018 to evaluate the extent of impacted sediments that are causing the sheen. Based on the results of those investigations, design and construction of a remedy to eliminate the sheen is anticipated to occur in 2019.

A final remedy has been approved for one area of the facility, the Building 82 Area. It consists of institutional controls implemented through environmental covenants and long-term groundwater monitoring. In 2013,  WVDEP issued a Statement of Basis, then a Final Decision after a public comment period.

In 2019, documentation for all the selected remedies at the facility will be submitted to EPA for approval in the Facility-Wide Corrective Measures Study.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of Union Carbide Corporation – South Charleston Plant, South Charleston, West Virginia

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UCC's South Charleston Facility is located adjacent to the Kanawha River in South Charleston, West Virginia. The site is approximately 200 acres, and consists of the Mainland and Blaine Island. The facility has been in continuous operation since the early 1920s. Currently, most of the plants produce specialty chemicals, such as surfactants, de-icers, and lubricating fluids.

Portions of the Mainland have transferred to new ownership and UCC has leased the majority of Blaine Island for industrial operations.

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Contaminants at this Facility

Based on current information, there are no known imminent threats to human health or the environment from the UCC South Charleston Facility.  The primary constituents of concern are benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, chlorobenzene, dichlorobenzene, dichloropropane, trichloroethene and vinyl chloride.  The original list of primary constituents has been refined to focus on those constituents that require remediation relative to the sites Remedial Action Objectives of preventing unacceptable groundwater discharges to the Kanawha River and mitigating unacceptable human health risks due to vapor intrusion direct contact.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Institutional /Engineering Control Summary
Restrictions or Controls that Address: Yes No
Groundwater Use
Residential Use
Vapor Intrusion
Capped Area(s)
Other Engineering Controls
Other Restrictions

Institutional Controls on Former Building #82 (Tracks #1,2,3,6,7 ) are enforced via an Environmental Covenant and consist of :
  • Groundwater shall not be used for any purpose except monitoring/remediationr (Tracks #1,2,3,6,7)
  • No residential use including condos, hotels, dormitories (Tracks #3,6) also enforced with WV Reg Code 22.12B-I
  • No excavation unless there is a threat to human life (Tracks #3,6)
  • All occupried structures shall have a vapor controlled system whose design approved by a WV PE (Tracks #1,2,3)

Land Reuse Information at this Facility

The facility maintains its current use.

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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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