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Seaford - Arbutus Well
Sussex County, DE 19973
Congressional District: 1st
Other Names: None
Last Updated:May 2004
Future updates will be provided on an as-needed basis.
The EPA is dedicated to providing you with timely and accurate information about our work at this site. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact:
On This Page
- In 1994 DuPont (i.e. E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company) installed a carbon filtration system on the Arbutus Well which is one of the public water supply wells for the City of Seaford.
- Sampling of the filtered water shows the contaminant of concern, tetrachloroethylene or PCE, level as non-detectable, meaning that it meets the federal drinking water standard.
- DuPont has done a comprehensive study of the ground water flow in the area, and based on their studies, contend the contamination at the Arbutus Well was not caused by the Southern Metals facility, formerly operated by DuPont.
- EPA’s review of the studies disagrees with DuPont's conclusions.
- The Arbutus Well is now only used during the summer months when water demand is high in the area.
- The Arbutus Well is one of the public water supply wells that provides water for the City of Seaford, Sussex County, Delaware.
- The Arbutus Well is located at the corner of the south end of Park Drive and north end of Ivy Drive.
Southern Metals was a subcontractor for the E.I. DuPont Seaford Nylon Plant, its sole customer. Southern Metals cleans metal filter media that are used in the DuPont Plant in various stages of nylon production.
- Between 1987 and 1988 DuPont in conjunction with Southern Metals, conducted a controlled experiment at Southern Metals using PCE as a final cleaning process to see if it would be effective in improving the quality of nylon.
- Approximately 80 gallons of PCE were used during the controlled experiment at Southern Metals. Approximately 52 gallons of used PCE were shipped back to DuPont for disposal. Southern Metals claimed that the remaining 28 gallons evaporated or were absorbed by rags that were used to wipe the filters clean.
- High concentrations of PCE found in the immediate vicinity of the Southern Metals facility indicate that a disposal of PCE very likely occurred.
NPL Listing History
- In the summer of 1992, a resident of Seaford complained about an odor in the water to the Public Works Department.
- Testing of the well by the State Department of Health revealed the presence of tetrachloroethylene ("PCE") at 12.7 ppb.
- The City of Seaford was required by the State of Delaware to shut off the well because the 12.7 ppb concentration of PCE exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level ("MCL") of 5 ppb as regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
- In September 1992, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control ("DNREC") conducted a series of investigations of all six of the facilities located in the Seaford Industrial Park to determine if any facilities used PCE in their processes. DNREC concluded that no facility utilized PCE in their facility processes.
- In November 1992, DNREC conducted a soil gas survey. The results indicated that no volatile organic compounds in the shallow subsurfaces surrounding the Arbutus Well were present.
- In January, 1993, DNREC conducted a series of additional interviews and learned that PCE was in fact used at the Southern Metals Processing facility for research and development purposes from late 1985 to early 1986, and in mid-1987, its use in the process was initiated. PCE was then used in the facility process until approximately May 1988.
- Geological and ground water studies indicated that the ground water flow is south to southeast from the Seaford Industrial Park towards the Arbutus Well.
- A ground water study was then conducted by DNREC, and in March 1993, twelve ground water monitoring wells located within the Seaford Industrial Park were sampled and analyzed for volatile organic compounds, including PCE.
- One sample revealed elevated levels of PCE (13,000 ppb) in a monitoring well located just south of the Southern Metals Facility, approximately 1,000 feet north of the Arbutus Well field.
- Tetrachloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethene, perchloroethylene, perchloroethene, is the principal contaminant of concern at the Site.
- PCE is a volatile organic compound which is used as a dry-cleaning solvent, a degreaser and/or a drying agent for metals.
- PCE is considered toxic by ingestion and inhalation, and is a skin irritant. An MCL of 5 parts per billion in drinking water has been established under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Serious health effects from exposure to PCE in ambient air have been included for consideration under the Clean Air Act.
- Contaminant descriptions and associated risk factors are available at: (ATSDR web site).
- To search an on-line database of all documents and reports on the Seaford - Arbutus Well site, go to EPA’s Administrative Record Database.
- All documents and reports can also be reviewed in person at these locations:
U.S. EPA Region 3 NPL Public Docket
c/o U.S. EPA Region 3 Library
1650 Arch Street, 2nd floor (3PM52)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
- Submit a FOIA Request
Get instructions on how to submit a FOIA request. $Fee$ for requests over 100 pages.