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Tower Chemical Company

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Drainage ditch on the Tower Chemical Company site.

Additional Resources
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: FLD004065546
Location: Clermont, Lake County, FL
Lat/Long: 28.551380, -081.684710
Congressional District: 05
NPL Status: Proposed: 12/30/82; Final: 09/08/83
Affected Media: Ground water, Surface water, Soil, Sediment
Cleanup Status: Physical cleanup activities are underway
Human Exposure Under Control: Yes
Groundwater Migration Under Control: No
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: In reuse – commercial land uses are located on site
Site Manager: Jan Rogers (rogers.jan@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The Tower Chemical Company site includes the area where Tower Chemical Company operated a pesticide manufacturing and repackaging facility from 1947 to 1980. EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) of contaminated sites in 1983 because of contaminated soil, sediment, surface water and ground water resulting from the facility’s waste and wastewater disposal practices. EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) have investigated site conditions and taken steps to clean up the site in order to protect people and the environment from contamination. Site contamination does not currently threaten people living and working near the site. A water line now connects eight residences next to the site to the public water supply. By removing contaminated soil, monitoring and sampling contaminated ground water, and conducting Five-Year Reviews, EPA and FDEP continue to protect people and the environment from site contamination.

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Site Location and Background

The 16-acre site is located approximately five miles east of Clermont and 15 miles west of Orlando in Lake County, Florida. The site originally included a production facility, a utility building, an office building, a wastewater pond and a burn and burial pit. Agricultural, residential, commercial and industrial areas surround the site. There has been significant new development in the area in recent years.

From 1957 to 1980, Tower Chemical Company manufactured and stored various pesticides at the site. In its early years of operation, the company burned and buried waste in a 1.5-acre area and discharged wastewater into a 0.5-acre unlined pond. As a result, wastewater seeped down through the soil into the Floridan Aquifer. In 1980, Tower Chemical Company disposed of wastewater on an off-site field southwest of the wastewater pond. In 1980, the wastewater pond overflowed into an on-site drainage ditch and then flowed downstream into the Gourd Neck of Lake Apopka, affecting vegetation and animals. Tower Chemical Company closed down its manufacturing operations in 1980. In 1983, EPA listed the site on the NPL.

From 1981 to 1986, Classic Manufacturing Company leased a 1-acre part of the site, including the utility building, for manufacturing operations. From 1981 until 1998, Vita-Green Inc. leased the former production facility.

Local officials later divided the former Tower Chemical Company property into four tax areas. The largest area is approximately 15 acres. The other three areas make up the remaining 1 acre of the site property and include the utility building and office building. The owner of the 15-acre area purchased the property in 2005 and uses it as a storage facility for recreational vehicles, boats, trailers and other vehicles. The owner cleared the collapsed part of the main production building and converted the remaining building, the concrete slab and uncontaminated land next to the area into the storage facility. In 2006, a commercial trucking operation purchased the remaining three areas at the site. The company uses the property as an unpaved parking area.

View site location map.

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Threats and Contaminants

Site investigations found contamination in soil, sediment, surface water and ground water that could potentially harm people in the area. Contamination resulted from waste and wastewater disposal practices at the site. Contaminants of concern include dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and chlorobenzilate.

The contamination affected surface level and deeper soils as well as the shallow ground water aquifer underneath the site. EPA installed well water filters and extended public water supply lines to residential properties next to the site to prevent people from coming in contact with contamination through drinking water. EPA has not detected contaminants in private wells next to the site. EPA staff contacted new site owners to make them aware of current restrictions on land and ground water use at the site.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

EPA leads site cleanup activities in cooperation with FDEP. 

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Site Cleanup Plan

Site investigations and cleanup activities have focused on three areas, which EPA refers to as operable units, or OUs. These areas include OU-1: soil and ground water contamination and potable well replacement; OU-2: interim action carbon filter systems; and OU-3: site-wide contamination.

In 1986, EPA issued a cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD) for OU-1. The plan included the following activities:

During pre-cleanup sampling, EPA did not find the high levels of contaminants originally anticipated. Therefore, EPA did not carry out the cleanup plan.

In 2000, EPA issued an interim cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-2 to minimize the potential risk to residents next to the site from the spread of contaminated ground water off site. The plan included the following activities:

In 2006, EPA issued a cleanup plan (ROD) for OU-3. The plan addressed ground water and wetland contamination and replaced the OU-1 cleanup plan. The plan included the following activities:

Summaries of site cleanup approaches are also available online in key site cleanup documents, including the ROD and Five-Year Reviews.

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Cleanup Progress

In 1983, EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation (FDER, now FDEP) completed an emergency short-term cleanup to stop an immediate threat to people and the environment. EPA removed and treated approximately one million gallons of contaminated water from the wastewater pond. After treatment, EPA discharged the water into a nearby ditch. EPA dug up and disposed of 3,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment and 72 drums of other hazardous waste from the pond and burn and burial pit area. In 1988, a second cleanup action addressed contaminated storage tanks, concrete pads and underlying contaminated soils. The concrete and excavated soils stayed on site.

EPA did not carry out the OU-1 cleanup plan, with the exception of the replacement of a residential well.

The OU-2 interim cleanup plan included installation of well filters, well filter maintenance and ground water monitoring. In 2003, EPA installed filters on six nearby residential wells. In 2010, EPA connected eight residences to the public water system. In February 2010, EPA began carrying out the OU-3 cleanup plan. EPA dug up contaminated soil in the site’s affected wetland areas, placed clean fill in these areas and replanted vegetation. During 2010 and 2011, EPA dug up and disposed of 45,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment. EPA also removed deeper contaminated soil and debris. EPA conducts quarterly monitoring of the restored areas. Cleanup efforts are ongoing and do not affect commercial business activities at the site.

The site’s first Five-Year Review, completed in 2008, found that regular monitoring of wells, maintenance of well filters, and application of institutional controls would continue to protect people and the environment from contamination.

Summaries of cleanup activities are also available online in the Five-Year Review.  

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Enforcement Activities

EPA negotiated legal agreements with the site PRP to investigate and clean up the site.

In 1987, EPA and the PRP completed legal agreements but the PRP did not follow the agreements. In 2007, EPA and the owners of the 15-acre area of the site negotiated a windfall lien settlement.

RODs and the site’s Five-Year Review online provide additional information on specific legal agreements for the site.

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Community Involvement

EPA has worked with the community and its state partner to develop a long-term cleanup plan for the site, reflecting the Agency’s commitment to safe, healthy communities and environmental protection. Community engagement and public outreach are core components of EPA program activities.

EPA has conducted a range of community involvement activities at the site to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach activities have included public notices, interviews, fact sheets and public meetings.

Fact Sheets

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Future Work

EPA continues to dig up deeper soil contamination at the site.

EPA continues to develop the ground water cleanup approach for the site. Once the Agency has selected the approach, EPA will then implement the site’s ground water cleanup.  EPA also plans to end its maintenance of the well filters because residences have been connected to the public water system.

EPA completed the last Five-Year Review in 2008 and plans to complete the next Five-Year Review in 2013.

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Additional Information

EPA keeps additional site documents and information in a site information repository at the location below. EPA also posts site documents, when available, on EPA’s CERCLIS Site Profile page. For documents not available on the website, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.

Site Repository

Cooper Memorial Library
2525 Oakley Seaver Drive 
Clermont, FL  34711

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