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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia

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University of Virginia (UVA), as a participant in the EPA Corrective Action Program conducted a Source Characterization Investigation to investigate the potential environmental impacts of two former waste disposal areas located on Mount Jefferson, more locally known as Observatory Hill. One disposal area is a former debris disposal area which was designated by the Virginia Department of Health in 1981 as a rubble/debris landfill and identified as Solid Waste Management Unit 16 (SWMU 16). The second disposal area, located adjacent to SWMU 16, is a one acre parcel where UVA reportedly buried a small quantity of hospital generated waste in the 1970's. This area is referred to as the Hillside Disposal Area. After conducting a facility inspection in September 1999 and consulting with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ), EPA concluded that additional investigation activities were required at SWMU 16 and at the adjacent one acre parcel known as the Hillside Disposal Area.

    Cleanup Status

    The University of Virginia (UVA) has completed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action process in accordance with the EPA Region III Facility Lead Program. The requirements of this program include:

    • Determine the extent and sources of all releases of hazardous wastes or hazardous waste constituents at or from the Facility.
    • Perform interim measures at the Facility, if warranted, to prevent or mitigate unacceptable threats to human health and the environment by: 1) controlling human exposures, and 2) controlling migration of any groundwater contamination at or from the Facility from releases of hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents.
    • Conduct effective public involvement in mitigating unacceptable threats to human health and the environment.

    Based on the initial facility wide assessment, the "Former Observatory Hill Debris Disposal Area," (O-Hill) was the only area identified for further study. EPA approved the investigation work plan designed for this area in the Spring of 2000 and the field work was completed in September 2000. The field work included the installation of six groundwater monitoring wells, the excavation of twelve exploratory backhoe test pits, three deep trenches and the collection of samples from groundwater, surface water, soils and sediments. The goal of this investigation is to determine if this former disposal area presents any long-term risks to human health or the environment.

    A final report documenting the results of the field investigation was submitted to EPA for review in October 2001. Based on the results documented in the final report EPA has concluded that there are no unacceptable risks to human health or the environment at the O-Hill area.

    On December 10, 2003, EPA issued a Statement of Basis explaining the findings of the field investigation. The 45 day public comment period ended on January 26, 2004 and no comments were received during that time. Based on this, EPA has determined that no further corrective action is necessary at this time and signed a Determination of Corrective Action Complete Without Controls on March 1, 2004.

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    Site Description

    Interactive Map of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

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    The University of Virginia, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, is a state-supported institution that supports research and scholarship in many fields. Its areas of strength include research in the humanities and programs in the biomedical, physical, and engineering sciences. The EPA utilized the National Corrective Action Priority System (NCAPS) model to evaluate the relative priority of the University. The NCAPS model is based on four different exposure pathways: groundwater, surface water, air and on-site (direct contact with hazardous materials or contact with contaminated surface soils). Based upon the NCAPS model, the University ranked as a high priority facility. The NCAPS modeling results do not mean that the facility ranked as "high" will in fact, require large-scale remediation. In some cases, remediation may have already taken place under the State's jurisdiction or as a facility-lead. The investigation at UVA focuses on the O-Hill area as was noted in the NCAPS site assessment report.

    UVA has established and operates a document repository for this project and communicates information regarding this project to the City of Charlottesville and the County of Albemarle via a cooperative task force (Planning and Coordination Council). The repository is located in the UVA Science and Engineering Library, Clark Hall, Charlottesville, Virginia.

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    Contaminants at this Facility

    Inorganic constituents in groundwater/soil and semi-volatile organic compounds in soil were evaluated as potential contaminants of concern.

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    Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

    Institutional controls were not required at the facility.

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    Land Reuse Information at this Facility

    The facility is under continued use.

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    Site Responsibility at this Facility

    RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under the direction of the EPA Region 3 with assistance from the VADEQ .

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