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EPA Project Manager
Mr. Griff Miller
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region III
1650 Arch Street
Mail code: 3LC30
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
EPA has evaluated available information and has determined that human exposures to contamination are under control at the facility. Migration of contaminated groundwater is indeterminate primarily due to the lack of current groundwater monitoring information in areas of the facility where waste was left in place. Sampling efforts have been planned and discussed with the facility that will address these remaining areas of concern in the near future.
An Environmental Indicator (EI) Inspection was conducted in September 2002 to assess whether human exposures to contamination and migration of contaminated groundwater were under control. Although remedial efforts concluded by 2001 (see Background below), further investigation and analysis of conditions at the site will be necessary to ensure that adequate cleanup has occurred and that the migration of contaminated groundwater is under control. Additionally, institutional and engineering controls will be required to prevent groundwater use, limit land use to non-residential purposes, and, among other things, ensure the continued maintenance and effectiveness of the capped areas of the facility.
The Nova Chemical facility is located on an approximately 420-acre plot of land on the south bank of the Ohio River in Potter Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The facility was initially constructed in 1942 by Koppers United Company on behalf of the US government. Processes at the facility at this time focused on manufacturing organic chemicals used to make synthetic rubber. In the 1940s-50s, Koppers used the facility for the manufacture of polystyrene and Dylite (expandable polystyrene). Although the manufacturing of polystyrene and expandable polystyrene has been ongoing since that time, the facility has had many owners: Sinclair-Koppers in the 1960s, ARCO from the 1970s to the 1990s, and Nova Chemical from 1996 to the present. ARCO retained ownership of the four inactive areas of the facility (described below) until 1998 when ARCO was sold to Lyondell Chemical Company, who then became owner of the inactive areas. The inactive areas of the facility are presently owned by the Lyondell Environmental Custodial Trust as a result of Lyondell’s 2009 bankruptcy.
For remedial purposes, the facility was broken into six different areas: the Central Plant/Styrene II Area (71 acres) and the surface impoundments and wastewater treatment plant in the Over-The-Hill (OTH) Area (12 acres) are the two areas still operational; the Raccoon Creek Area (18 acres), West Landfill/Dravo Quarry Area (14 acres), East Landfill Area (54 acres), and Phthalic Anhydride Plant Area (4 acres) are all inactive areas.
Several investigations of the facility have been conducted with PADEP oversight. Remedial investigations and risk assessments for each of the areas were completed in the 1990s and led to final reports and releases of liability under the Act 2 program for each of the six areas between 1999 and 2001. Air sparging and soil vapor extraction remedial systems operated for two years in the Central Plant and Over-The-Hill Areas. Raccoon Creek and East and West Landfill Areas were capped with a soil and vegetation cover, and mercury-contaminated soil from the Phthalic Anhydride Plant Area was excavated and disposed of off-site.
Primary contaminants include benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, and styrene (BTEXS). Soil and groundwater are the primary media impacted by the contaminants. Potentially complete exposure pathways to this contamination include the intrusion of vapors from groundwater and soil contamination into the indoor air of facility buildings, and the discharge of contaminated groundwater into Raccoon Creek. It is likely that vapor intrusion is not presently a significant exposure pathway at the facility due to the depth of contamination and the readily degradable nature of BTEXS, but more investigation will be necessary to determine whether contaminated groundwater discharge to surface water presents an unacceptable risk to the environment.
- Some of the site’s key documents of interest are accessible below:
- Environmental Indicator Determination - Human Exposures [ 11 pp, 281, About PDF]
- Environmental Indicator Determination - Groundwater Migration [ 9 pp, 164 KB, About PDF]
- Documents and reports regarding this facility also can be reviewed in person at these locations:
U.S. EPA Region III
Land & Chemicals Division
1650 Arch Street-11th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Call for an appointment.
- Submit a FOIA Request
Get instructions on how to submit a FOIA request. Additional fee for requests over 100 pages.
Click on a thumbnail to enlarge the photo)
Nova Chemical continues to use the active areas of the facility to manufacture polystyrene and other plastic feedstocks; inactive portions of the facility owned by Lyondell Environmental Custodial Trust are unused.