Environmental Protection

Honeywell to Clean Up, Contain Former Tar Plant at Ohio Superfund Site

A settlement with Honeywell International Inc. estimated to be worth more than $10 million will ensure that cleanup of the remaining areas of the Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke Superfund Site in Ironton, Ohio, will move forward, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on March 31.

The agreement, lodged in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, resolves federal liability claims against Honeywell for cleanup of the remaining areas of the site. As a result of this settlement with Honeywell and the previous agreements with Honeywell and another potentially responsible party, Amcast Industrial Corp., the United States will recover substantially all of the costs incurred by the government in responding to the contamination at the site. This settlement and the previous agreements will result in cleanup work estimated to cost in excess of $75 million.

The Allied Chemical and Ironton Coke site lies on the banks of the Ohio River near the point where the Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia borders converge. The facility produced a number of products during its operations including phthalic anhydride, pitch, creosote, naphthalene, anthracene and carbolic acids. The process wastes included anthracene residue, anthracene salts, phthalic anhydride residue and coal tar pitch scrap. The result of operations and waste disposal practices was extensive contamination of soil, sediment (mud) in nearby Ice Creek and ground water.

Under the settlement, Honeywell International Inc. will be responsible for cleanup and containment of the former tar plant area of the site. Honeywell will also pay for all of the United States’ response costs relating to the tar plant area, including oversight costs incurred by EPA. Contaminants released at the tar plant area include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene, toluene, and naphthalene.

The remedy will address soil, soil vapor and Ohio River sediment contaminated by the former tar plant. Contaminated soil in this area will be covered with a cap that complies with Ohio solid waste regulations; land use controls will be put in place to ensure the cap remains intact and thereby protects people from remaining contaminated soil and soil vapor; and dredging, off-site disposal and/or capping will address contaminated sediment in the Ohio River adjacent to the tar plant’s loading dock. The total cost for the selected remedy is estimated to be approximately $10 million.

The tar plant, located on South Third Street, manufactured products from the crude tar produced in the coking process at the now-closed coke plant. During its period of operation, the plant contained approximately 124 above-ground storage tanks and process tanks varying in size from several hundred to 750,000 gallons. The site contains three areas that are major sources of contamination: the tar plant area, which is the subject of this agreement; the coke plant/lagoon area, a dismantled former coke plant; and the Goldcamp disposal area, a former sand and gravel pit used as a disposal area for chemical process wastes. Cleanup activities associated with the coke plant/lagoon area and the Goldcamp disposal area have been performed and response costs related to these areas recovered under separate agreements. The contaminated site-wide groundwater beneath the three source areas is continuously being treated by an on-site wastewater treatment plant and monitored for compliance.

“The cleanup required by this consent decree will complete all work at the site and open the door for the potential reuse of some portions of the property,” said Richard Karl, Superfund director for EPA Region 5.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

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