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E-M:/ Heads up, Belding, MI....H & K radium contamination site delisting

Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com

Delisting of a radium contamination site in Belding MI....

[Federal Register: March 30, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 60)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 15125-15127]
>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]




40 CFR Part 300

National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; 
National Priorities List

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of intent to delete the H & K Sales Superfund site from 
the national priorities list; request for comments.


SUMMARY: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 
V announces its intent to delete the H & K Sales Site from the National 
Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comment on this action. The 
NPL constitutes Appendix B of 40 CFR part 300 which is the National Oil 
and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which EPA 
promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental 
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) as amended. 
This action is being taken by EPA, because it has been determined that 
all Fund-financed responses under CERCLA have been implemented and EPA, 
in consultation with the State of Michigan, has determined that no 
further response is appropriate. Moreover, EPA and the State have 
determined that remedial activities conducted at the Site to date have 
been protective of public health, welfare, and the environment.

DATES: Comments concerning the proposed deletion of the Site from the 
NPL may be submitted on or before April 29, 1998.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be mailed to Gladys Beard, Associate Remedial 
Project Manager, Superfund Division, U.S. EPA, Region V, 77 W. Jackson 
Blvd. (SR-6J), Chicago, IL 60604. Comprehensive information on the site 
is available at U.S. EPA's Region V office and at the local information 
repository located at: Alvah N. Belding Library, 302 East Main Street, 
Belding, Michigan 48809. Requests for comprehensive copies of documents 
should be directed formally to the Region V Docket Office. The address 
and phone number for the Regional

[[Page 15126]]

Docket Officer is Jan Pfundheller (H-7J), U.S. EPA, Region V, 77 W. 
Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 353-5821.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Adler, Remedial Project Manager 
at (312) 886-7078 or Gladys Beard, Associate Remedial Project Manager, 
Superfund Division (SR-6J), U.S. EPA, Region V, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., 
Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-7253 or Denise Gawlinski (P-19J), Office 
of Public Affairs, U.S. EPA, Region V, 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 
60604, (312) 886-9859.


Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. NPL Deletion Criteria
III. Deletion Procedures
IV. Basis for Intended Site Deletion

I. Introduction

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region V announces its 
intent to delete the H & K Sales Site from the National Priorities List 
(NPL), which constitutes Appendix B of the National Oil and Hazardous 
Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), and requests comments on 
the proposed deletion. The EPA identifies sites that appear to present 
a significant risk to public health, welfare or the environment, and 
maintains the NPL as the list of those sites. Sites on the NPL may be 
the subject of remedial actions financed by the Hazardous Substance 
Superfund Response Trust Fund (Fund). Pursuant to section 300.425(e)(3) 
of the NCP, any site deleted from the NPL remains eligible for Fund-
financed remedial actions if the conditions at the site warrant such 
    The EPA will accept comments on this proposal for thirty (30) days 
after publication of this document in the Federal Register.
    Section II of this document explains the criteria for deleting 
sites from the NPL. Section III discusses procedures that EPA is using 
for this action. Section IV discusses the history of this site and 
explains how the site meets the deletion criteria.
    Deletion of sites from the NPL does not itself create, alter, or 
revoke any individual's rights or obligations. Furthermore, deletion 
from the NPL does not in any way alter EPA's right to take enforcement 
actions, as appropriate. The NPL is designed primarily for 
informational purposes and to assist in Agency management.

II. NPL Deletion Criteria

    The NCP establishes the criteria the Agency uses to delete sites 
from the NPL. In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be 
deleted from the NPL where no further response is appropriate. In 
making this determination, EPA will consider, in consultation with the 
State, whether any of the following criteria have been met:
    (i) Responsible parties or other persons have implemented all 
appropriate response actions required; or
    (ii) All appropriate non-time Critical Removal Actions or Fund-
financed responses under CERCLA have been implemented, and no further 
response action by responsible parties is appropriate; or
    (iii) The Remedial Investigation has shown that the release poses 
no significant threat to public health or the environment and, 
therefore, remedial measures are not appropriate.

III. Deletion Procedures

    Upon determination that at least one of the criteria described in 
300.425(e) has been met, EPA may formally begin deletion procedures 
once the State has concurred. This Federal Register document, and a 
concurrent notice in the local newspaper in the vicinity of the site, 
announce the initiation of a 30-day comment period. The public is asked 
to comment on EPA's intention to delete the Site from the NPL. All 
critical documents needed to evaluate EPA's decision are included in 
the information repository and the deletion docket.
    Upon completion of the public comment period, if necessary, the EPA 
Regional Office will prepare a Responsiveness Summary to evaluate and 
address comments that were received. The public is welcome to contact 
the EPA Region V Office to obtain a copy of this responsiveness 
summary, if one is prepared. If EPA then determines the deletion from 
the NPL is appropriate, final notice of deletion will be published in 
the Federal Register.

IV. Basis for Intended Site Deletion

    The H & K Sales site is located at 100 East Main Street in Belding, 
Michigan. The site is the portion of the Belding Warehouse facility in 
which World War II (WWII) era military-surplus aircraft components had 
been stored since 1994. Some of the aircraft components are marked with 
paint containing radium-226, which is a naturally occurring, but 
hazardous, radioactive material.
    The Belding Warehouse facility is located on several acres of land 
in a commercial section of town. The property is bounded by the Flat 
River on the north, Bridge Street on the west, and adjacent industrial 
buildings on the east and south. Several schools, a hospital, and many 
residences are located within a one-mile radius of the site, almost 
6000 people live within this area.
    The Belding Warehouse facility is privately owned and consists of 
two main buildings. The site is a single-story building consisting of 
three large rooms, each approximately 10,000 square feet in area. This 
building has a concrete floor and foundation, brick and block walls, 
and a metal roof. Two of the three rooms were packed with crates of the 
WWII surplus material; the third room was empty. Evidence of cracks in 
the concrete floor, leaks in the roof, and floor drains with an 
uncertain discharge location pointed towards the potential for release 
of radium-226 into the environment. The building is attached to a 
separate, three-story building that was not used for storage of the 
surplus material and thus was not contaminated.
    In the late 1940s, Aircraft Components, Inc., of Benton Harbor, 
Michigan, purchased the radium-paint aircraft components as military 
surplus for resale. Aircraft Components stored the surplus material in 
several Benton Harbor locations, including in its main warehouse 
building which is now also a Superfund cleanup site. After the owners 
of the company died in the early 1990s the main warehouse building in 
Benton Harbor was sold along with its contents. The new owners of the 
Benton Harbor warehouse sold some of the surplus material to a salvage 
facility in Arkansas whose radiation alarm was tripped during a 
delivery of the material. The facility notified the Arkansas Department 
of Health, which traced the shipment to Michigan and then notified the 
Michigan Department of Public Health's Division of Radiological 
Protection. The Division of Radiological Protection is now called the 
Drinking Water and Radiological Protection Division and is a part of 
the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
    MDEQ staff determined that the origin of the material was the 
Aircraft Components Inc., warehouse in Benton Harbor. The MDEQ 
interviewed the new owners of the warehouse and determined that a large 
portion of their inventory had been sold to another Michigan firm (H & 
K Sales) and moved to Belding, Michigan. The MDEQ investigated the 
Belding Warehouse facility in late September 1994 and estimated that 
thousands of radium-painted gauges and other aircraft components were 
packed in wooden crates inside part of the warehouse facility. Using 
radiation detection equipment, the MDEQ measured

[[Page 15127]]

ambient gamma ray dose rate readings within the building at more than 
700 times the level that naturally occurs in Michigan. In October 1994, 
the EPA and the MDEQ conducted a radiological survey at the site and 
confirmed the MDEQ's initial findings.
    In June 1995, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry 
issued a public health advisory and recommended that the site be 
addressed by the EPA without delay. ATSDR was concerned that a fire at 
the warehouse could result in the widespread dispersal of radium into 
the environment by the smoke plume and by water runoff into the 
adjacent Flat River. In September 1995, the site was nominated for 
inclusion on the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL), which made it 
eligible for study and cleanup under the Superfund law. The site was 
added to the NPL in July 1996.
    In October 1995, the EPA met with officials from the U. S. Air 
Force in Washington, D.C. and requested that they undertake the cleanup 
of the radium-226-painted materials. The EPA considers the Air Force, 
which originally sold the radium-painted gauges and other materials to 
Aircraft Components, to be a potentially responsible party as defined 
by the Superfund Law. The Air Force declined to participate in a 
cleanup at that time, citing budgetary and logistical reasons.
    In February 1996, the EPA, with assistance from the MDEQ, conducted 
a detailed inspection of the site and prepared a document called an 
Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA). An EE/CA is a type of 
study that the EPA uses to evaluate removal program cleanup 
alternatives and to request Superfund money for cleanup of sites that 
pose immediate threats to public health and the environment. A site 
risk evaluation performed as part of the EE/CA by the U.S. EPA 
concluded that people working in the warehouse buildings could be 
exposed to harmful levels of radiation from radium and/or radon gas, 
which is generated by the radioactive decay of radium. EPA and MDEQ 
shared ATSDR's concern that radium could be released to the environment 
should there be a fire, or as the result of other events such as 
vandalism or theft.
    The EPA began the planning stage of the cleanup in September 1996. 
At that time, the EPA contracted with another federal agency, the U.S. 
Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), to manage 
the cleanup. Onsite cleanup work began in January 1997 and included the 
following activities:
    <bullet> The building was secured to prevent release of radiation 
to the environment during the handling of the radium-painted materials 
and to prevent entrance to the clean-up areas by untrained persons;
    <bullet> A detailed, base-line radiation survey using radiation-
detection devices was performed in the buildings: (1) To determine 
where ``hotspots'' existed to alert site clean-up workers and prevent 
exposure to high doses of radiation during the cleanup; and (2) to more 
accurately predict where radium-painted items were stored (before the 
large number of storage crates were opened for sorting);
    <bullet> Radium-painted materials were segregated and packed into 
proper containers for shipment to a disposal facility in the state of 
Washington. Two shipments, each containing an average of 85 containers 
of radium painted materials, were sent off-site for disposal. Each 
container held between 200 and 300 radium-painted components, which 
means more than 34,000 radium-painted aircraft components were 
transported off-site for disposal;
    <bullet> A waste shredder was set up in the building to process 
packaging materials and other non-hazardous items for disposal in a 
local landfill. These materials were tested to ensure that they did not 
exceed the federal or state criterion for disposal of radioactive items 
in municipal landfills. Approximately 56 loads of material were sent to 
the local landfill; each load contained about 540 cubic feet (averaging 
about 4.5 tons) of shredded wastes, for a total of 30,240 cubic feet 
(252 tons). Using the local landfill was a safe and cost-effective 
alternative to sending the non-hazardous wastes to a disposal facility 
in Utah;
    <bullet> Approximately 1,000 cubic feet of material was packaged 
and shipped to a low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Utah. 
This material was not painted with radium-226, but had enough radium-
226 dust in it to exceed the federal criterion for disposal in the 
local landfill;
    <bullet> More than 4,500 cubic feet of aircraft components and 
other materials were subjected to radiation surveys, cleaned if 
necessary, and then released back to the original owners (H&K Sales, 
Inc.) for unrestricted use, including resale to collectors, etc. Items 
such as airplane propellers, nuts and bolts, and certain pieces of 
heavy machinery were reclaimed by the owners, saving the U.S. EPA 
substantial sums in disposal costs; and
    <bullet> Smaller amounts of other hazardous items, including 
radium-226-painted components containing such materials as mercury and 
diesel fuel,were properly packaged and shipped off-site for disposal. 
For example, the mercury-containing components were shipped to a 
processing facility in Texas where the mercury will be reclaimed for 
re-use. The radium 226-painted components will then be sent to the 
disposal facility in the state of Washington.
    EPA has determined that no further remedial action needs to take 
place at the site for the following reasons:
    <bullet> The site no longer contains radium-226 above standards or 
above naturally-occurring levels.
    <bullet> The warehouse buildings have been emptied of the radium-
painted materials, thus the risk of release of radium-226 to the 
environment (air, ground water, surface water, or soil) ended.
    <bullet> There are several floor drains in Rooms 1 and 2 however, 
these drains had been plugged prior to the placement of the radium-
painted materials at the site and thus were not a potential conduit for 
radium-226 to be released to the environment. During the final 
radiation survey, the drains were found not to have radium-226-
contamination in them.
    <bullet> Radiation survey data from certain areas outside of the 
site building ensured that no radium was tracked off-site by site 
cleanup workers and that no radium had been released to the environment 
in the short time that the materials had been stored at the warehouse.
    <bullet> Radon gas levels are at a level below the acceptable 
criteria of 4 pCi/L inside the buildings.
All risks to human health and the environment posed by the site have 
been removed.
    EPA, with concurrence from the State of Michigan, has determined 
that all appropriate Fund-financed responses under CERCLA at the H & K 
Sales Superfund Site have been completed, and no further CERCLA 
response is appropriate in order to provide protection of human health 
and the environment. Therefore, EPA proposes to delete the site from 
the NPL.

    Dated: March 13, 1998.
David Ullrich,
Acting Regional Administrator, Region V.
[FR Doc. 98-7932 Filed 3-27-98; 8:45 am]

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  asagady@sojourn.com
Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039  
(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)

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