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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia

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Activities related to the storage and management of hazardous wastes by Virginia Tech since 1980 resulted in the Facility being subject to an evaluation under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action Program. The RCRA Corrective Action Program requires investigation and cleanup of releases of hazardous wastes and hazardous constituents that pose an unacceptable risk at RCRA hazardous waste treatment, storage and/or disposal facilities (TSDFs). Facility evaluations, conducted by EPA or the State, are based on human health and environmental risks posed by actual or potential releases of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents to the environment, potential migration pathways, target receptors, and waste characteristics.

Cleanup Status

Consistent with the public participation provisions under RCRA, EPA solicited public comment on its proposed Final Remedy. On January 15, 2015, notice of the Statement of Basis (SB) was published on the: EPA Public Notice Website and in the Roanoke Times newspaper. The comment period ended on March 27, 2015.

EPA did not receive any comments on the SB; thus, the remedy proposed in the SB is the Final Remedy selected by EPA for the Facility on April 9, 2015.

EPA's Final Remedy for Solid Waste Management Units one and two at the Facility includes the following:

  • Monitored natural attenuation until drinking water standards are met;
  • Continuing groundwater monitoring according to Post Closure Permit and
  • Compliance with and maintenance of land and groundwater use restrictions.

EPA's Final Remedy also includes No Further Action for 19 SWMUs and 9 Areas of Concern at the Facility.

On July 18, 2012, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech or Facility) submitted a draft Community Relations Participation Plan (Plan). The purpose of the Plan is to provide an outline for the release of relevant information pertaining to the current environmental conditions of the twenty-one (21) Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) and eight (8) Areas of Concern (AOCs) identified at the Facility, using data and information gathered during previous and/or ongoing environmental evaluations, investigations, and corrective action activities, and other relevant activities. The Plan also describes procedures for interaction with students attending Virginia Tech, employees of the university, and members of the surrounding community.

On September 14, 2012, Virginia Tech submitted a draft RCRA Facility Investigation Workplan (RFIW) for EPA's review and approval. The purpose of the RFIW is to address the removal of two 137,000-gallon concrete underground storage tanks (USTs), one of which was found to be the source of a subsurface petroleum release in December 2002. The USTs have been identified as AOC 5 and are located at the Virginia Tech Power Plant. In addition, the RFIW also addresses the subsequent investigation of soils and potentially groundwater in the vicinity of AOC 5 to evaluate the presence, magnitude, extent, direction, and rate of movement of any hazardous wastes or hazardous constituents that may be present.

Cleanup Background

Virginia Tech's activities related to the storage and management of hazardous waste have resulted in releases to the soil and groundwater. To address such releases, Virginia Tech entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (Consent Order; Docket No. RCRA-03-2010-0396CA) with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 3 (EPA) on September 29, 2010. The Consent Order requires Virginia Tech to: (1) perform Interim Measures (IM) to prevent or mitigate any threats to human health or the environment; (2) perform a RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) to fully determine the nature and extent of any release of hazardous waste and/or hazardous constituents at the Facility; and (3) to perform a Corrective Measures Study (CMS) to identify and evaluate alternatives for corrective action necessary to clean up contaminated media to levels protective of human health and the environment.

In accordance with the Consent Order and as part of the IM, Virginia Tech submitted a Description of Current Conditions Report (CCR) to EPA on December 20, 2010, followed by supplemental information on July 1, 2011. The CCR provides background and current environmental information including data and information gathered during previous and/or ongoing environmental evaluations, investigations, interim measures, and corrective action activities. The report also identifies the nature and extent of impacts, if any, at the twenty-one (21) SWMUs and eight (8) AOCs identified at the Facility.

Demolition and removal of the Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) began on May 18, 2017 and was completed by early July, 2017. With Virginia DEQ’s concurrence, backfilling with clean soil began on July 5, 2017 and concluded by late July 2017. Forty-seven (47) confirmation soil samples were collected from the excavation and analyzed for TPH-DRO, 38 of the samples were also analyzed for PAHs, and 22 of the samples were analyzed for BTEX. Analytical results from the sampling and analysis show that, with respect to future risk to human health and the environment, exposure pathways are mitigated and remedial endpoints have been achieved. No further remediation is being recommended at this time. 

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    Site Description

    Interactive Map of Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

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    Virginia Tech is located in a rural residential and agricultural area in Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Virginia, 42 miles southwest of Roanoke, Virginia. Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college named Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, Virginia Tech is now a comprehensive, innovative research university with more than 100 campus buildings, a 2,600-acre main campus, off-campus educational facilities in six regions, and a 1,700-acre agriculture research farm near the main campus. The total number of on- and off-campus students is 28,500. Through its many research programs, the Facility studies innovations in agriculture, biotechnology, information and communication technology, transportation, energy management (including leadership in fuel-cell technology and power electronics), and a wide range of other engineering, scientific, social science, and creative fields.

    The Facility also includes the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (and Virginia Tech Airport) which is located on 120-acres adjacent to the main campus. The Center consists of 21 buildings housing more than 130 companies with approximately 1,900 employees. The Center also includes overflow research facilities for Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech Airport, formerly operated by Virginia Tech, is now known as the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport and is operated by an authority comprised of Virginia Tech, the Town of Blacksburg, and Montgomery County. Virginia Tech still owns the airport property.

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    Contaminants at this Facility

    Primary contaminants at the Facility include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), and RCRA metals .

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    Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

    On September 10, 2012, Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors approved a resolution restricting land and groundwater-use in areas of the Facility where soils and groundwater has been impacted by releases of hazardous waste and/or hazardous constituents (i.e., SWMU one and SWMU two).

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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 VA DEQ.

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