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Paint Waste Cited at New Superfund Site

Thursday, May 10, 2012

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An old California manufacturing and painting operation has joined the National Priorities List of Superfund hazardous waste sites that pose health and environmental risks.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday (May 9) that it had added the former Jervis B. Webb Co. property and two other sites to the list, marking the second step in the Superfund cleanup process

 An aerial map photographed in 1998 shows the company’s coating operations.


An aerial map photographed in 1998 shows the company’s coating operations.

Contaminants found at the three sites include benzene, heavy metals, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and trichloroethylene (TCE).

Also added to the National Priorities List were:

• Southern Avenue Industrial Area, a former adhesive manufacturer, in South Gate, CA; and

• Bremerton Gasworks, a former gasworks facility, in Bremerton, WA.

The National Priorities List helps guide the EPA in determining which of the nation’s most hazardous sites warrant further investigation. Wednesday’s additions brought the total number of sites on the list to 1,305. In addition, 359 sites have been cleaned up and removed from the list since 1983.

Webb Company

The 3.82-acre Jervis B. Webb property is located in a mixed industrial, commercial and residential area of Los Angeles County.

Founded in 1919, the Jervis C. Webb Company is now a Michigan-based global manufacturer of airport baggage handling systems and material handling technology for manufacturing and warehousing. Webb-made conveyors are also used in paint and coating manufacturing and finishing operations.

From the 1950s to early 1996, Webb conducted metal fabrication, finishing, painting and assembly operations for custom conveyor and crane manufacturing on the southeast portion of the California site. Reliable Steel Inc. purchased that piece of the site in 1997.

The Webb Company bought the northwestern portion of the site in 1975 from Spear Industries and then leased it to Blake Rivet Company, which produced aluminum and stainless steel aircraft rivets, until about 1981.

Paint Waste Contamination

Much of the contamination involves paint waste, including chlorinated solvents, thinners and oil-based paints.

Authorities have confirmed Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), including trichloroethene (TCE), in the soil and groundwater at the site. TCE in the groundwater was measured at levels up to 35,000 ppb. EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act Maximum Contaminant Level for TCE in drinking water is 5 ppb.

 Jervis B. Webb Co. makes material handling systems for paint manufacturing and finishing, airport baggage and other markets.
Founded in 1919, the Jervis B. Webb Co. makes material handling systems for paint manufacturing and finishing, airport baggage and other markets.

There are at least 35 drinking-water wells within four miles of the site, serving approximately 226,000 people, and EPA is concerned that these wells may become contaminated.

Clean-Up Responsibility

With all NPL sites, EPA works to identify companies or people responsible for the contamination and requires them to conduct or pay for the clean-up.

In the case of the Webb property, EPA says the California Regional Water Quality Control Board asked the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to assume the lead on the site in 2007.

The DTSC then issued an order to the “potentially responsible parties” (whom it did not publicly identify) to investigate and remediate the site, “but no parties complied with the order,” according to EPA.

Since 2007, according to EPA, “the DTSC has been unsuccessful in compelling the potentially responsible parties to conduct work at the site.” EPA has therefore taken the lead on cleaning up the site.

Other Sites

Also added to the National Priorities List were:

Southern Avenue Industrial Area: The site has been occupied since 1972 by a facility that manufactures hot-melt adhesive tape for laying carpets. Before 1972, Pacific Screw Products Corp. manufactured screw products at the property until the business went bankrupt.

The main areas of concern include concrete liners in the pallet manufacturing area, a sump, and an underground storage tank area. TCE was formerly used on the property, and unusable oils and solvents were dumped there, according to EPA.

Bremerton Gasworks:  One and a half miles outside downtown Bremerton and adjacent to the Port Washington Narrows, the site includes discharges from an outfall pipe from the old Bremerton Gasworks facility, a former gasification plant that operated from about 1930 to 1963.

Various contaminants, including tars and heavy metals, have been detected within upland sources, ground water beneath the site, and within the Washington Narrows sediments. Soil contaminants have been found 30 feet deep.

“Superfund cleanups take contaminated properties and make them safe places for people and the environment,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.


Tagged categories: Paint disposal; Shop-applied coatings; Solvents; Surface preparation

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