A hazardous waste site in Washington has been added to a federal priority list that could expedite cleanup.

The Sporlan Valve Plant 1 Superfund Site, located at 611 E. Seventh St., was added to the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL), the EPA announced Monday.

Washington Emergency Management Director Mark Skornia said this designation begins the process of removing dangerous chemicals contaminating the area.

“In the end, what everyone wants is the contaminants to be gone and safely removed from groundwater,” he said.

According to Skornia, the city has been meeting with legislators in an effort to get the property on the NPL.

Being named to the list is just the first phase of remediation.

“Essentially, there is a trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination and this begins the process of studying the solution to the problem and eventually cleaning it up,” Skornia told The Missourian. “It is not a super quick process, but the process is beginning.”

Skornia explained that the EPA has shown TCE groundwater contamination and vapors in homes. 

“They oversaw mitigation fans to get (TCE) levels below what the EPA saw as harmful,” he added. “We have been working with the EPA because we believe it’s the best solution to get it cleaned up and protect everyone in that area.”

Priority List

The NPL includes the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination, according to the EPA. 

The list serves as the basis for prioritizing EPA Superfund cleanup funding and enforcement actions. Only sites included on the NPL are eligible to receive federal funding for long-term, permanent cleanup.

There were seven sites added to the NPL.

“By adding these sites to the National Priorities List, we are taking action to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated sites, protect the health of the local communities, and return the sites to safe and productive reuse,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our commitment to these communities is that sites on the National Priorities List will be a true national priority. We’ve elevated the Superfund program to a top priority, and in Fiscal Year 2018, EPA deleted all or part of 22 sites from the NPL, the largest number of deletions in one year since Fiscal Year 2005.”

Sporlan Site

The site was first developed as a refrigeration valve manufacturing facility in 1939. TCE was used at the facility as a degreaser and industrial solvent. 

A release of TCE to the ground occurred, potentially over several decades, resulting in contaminated soil and groundwater beneath the facility. TCE has been detected in groundwater, soil gas, and indoor air surrounding the site.

The leak was discovered between 2003 and 2006. Parker Hannifin was in the process of purchasing Sporlan and environmental assessments were done on the site.

Parker Hannifin ultimately did not purchase the site. SV Land, LLC purchased the property in December 2004 and the building was torn down in 2011.

Once the TCE was detected on the site, SV Land joined a voluntary cleanup program run by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Five monitoring wells were installed near the site to monitor the area for TCE and other contaminants in the air.

TCE Exposure

TCE is the primary contaminant of concern at the site. Exposure to TCE poses potential human health hazards to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and developing fetus.

TCE is characterized by EPA as “carcinogenic in humans” by all routes of exposure. Other contaminants of concern at this site include vinyl chloride and dichloroethene, both of which are breakdown byproducts of the degradation of TCE in the environment.

A series of actions have been taken to mitigate the threat of vapor intrusion (VI), due to the presence of TCE in shallow groundwater under residential properties adjacent to the site. These actions have included sampling for TCE in homes, installing, and requiring the potentially responsible party to install vapor mitigation systems.

Vapor intrusion is a process by which volatile chemicals in soil and groundwater can migrate into and accumulate inside buildings. Vapor mitigation systems reduce concentrations of airborne contamination, so they do not pose health risks. At this time, EPA has installed and overseen installation of 19 vapor mitigation systems at homes adjacent to the site.

In August 2016 the EPA hosted its first meeting in Washington to inform residents near the former Sporlan Valve site about the possible problems related to contaminated soil and groundwater.

An EPA Public Availability Session was held in June 2018.