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Hemphill Road TCE


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Site Summary Profile

EPA ID: NC0002374445
Location: Gastonia, Gaston County, North Carolina
Lat/Long: 35.1979; -081.1899
Congressional District: 09
NPL Status:: Proposed 5/24/13; Final December 12, 2013
Affected Media: Ground water, Surface Water, Soils
Cleanup Status: Study Underway
Human Exposure Under Control: EPA is working to determine exposure control status
Groundwater Migration Under Control: EPA is working to determine exposure control status
Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use: No
Site Reuse/Redevelopment: None
Site Manager: Carolyn Callihan (callihan.carolyn@epa.gov)

Community Involvement Coordinator: LaTonya Spencer(spencer.latonya@epa.gov)

Current Site Status

The EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 2013 because of contaminated ground water that has affected private and community drinking water supplies. The EPA and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) have taken steps to protect people from the contamination by providing whole house well filters and by monitoring private and community wells in the area. The EPA and the NCDENR will continue to make sure people and the environment are protected from site contamination through site investigations and continued well monitoring.  EPA is undertaking a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) at the site to understand the type, source and extent of contamination before issuing a cleanup plan for the site.

Gastonia Industrial Truck, Inc., is currently in operation on the northwest parcel. There are no operations on the wooded southeast parcel where the alleged disposal occurred in the 1950’s. The contaminated ground water is not believed to be attributable to Gastonia Industrial Truck’s current or past operations.

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Site Location and Background

The site was originally investigated as the Gastonia Industrial Truck (GIT) site, which consists of a northwest parcel and a southeast parcel along Hemphill Road near the intersection of Forbes Road in South Gastonia, North Carolina. During the 1950’s, then owner, Carl Hendrix (deceased), reportedly used the southeast parcel to recycle several thousand chemical drums. Local residents and Hendrix’ son, a minor at the time, reported that Hendrix dumped drum residues onto the ground surface, then rinsed, burned and flattened the drums for sale as scrap metal. 

In 1988, trichloroethylene (TCE) was discovered in a private drinking water well on Hemphill Road. Follow-up investigation in 1989 revealed TCE contamination in an adjacent residential well to the north on Hemphill Road, as well as in the GIT’s facility production well. The owners of the two residential wells placed filters on their wells and GIT stopped using its production well for drinking. From 1989-1992, the NCDENR Division of Environmental Management (DEM) investigated the oil-water separator and waste oil storage areas at GIT. GIT’s contractor conducted more sampling and removed over 80 cubic feet of soil. However, only fuel oil-related constituents, not TCE, could be attributed to GIT’s operation.

In 1993-94, NCDENR DEM installed 13 monitoring wells on the two GIT parcels to further investigate the source of the TCE.  The investigation detected a dissolved TCE plume centered beneath the southeast parcel and extending northwest toward the GIT facility and the contaminated private wells.

During the 1999 Site Inspection, NCDENR conducted a community well file review and found documented concentrations of TCE above the Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) of 5 micrograms per liter (ug/L) at the nearby Kensington Estates community wells. Following the discovery, the wells were taken offline and the Kensington Estates homes were hooked up to the Amy Acres community well.

During the 2012 Expanded Site Inspection, NCDENR’s community well file review found generally increasing detections of TCE at the Wesley Acres community well #1, but concentrations were below the MCL.  Sampling results also revealed that the private wells of three homes on Hemphill Road, two of which had privately installed well filters, had concentrations of TCE exceeding the MCL.  NCDENR referred the matter to the EPA.  In May 2012, the EPA replaced the previously installed whole house well filters at the two homes and installed a new whole house well filter system in the third home.

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Threats and Contaminants

Past site investigations have identified contamination in ground water and surface water that could potentially harm people in the area.  Contaminants of concern identified include TCE, perchloroethylene (PCE) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  Currently, the EPA is conducting an RI/FS to assess site-related threats to people and the environment and to evaluate risk and cleanup options.

TCE-contaminated ground water poses a threat to human health via ingestion and inhalation. There is no access to municipal water within a ½ mile radius of the site and numerous community and private wells in that area may be at risk.  TCE has been detected in surface water in the unnamed tributary which borders the northern portion of the site, but concentrations detected do not pose a threat to recreational users of the tributary.

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Investigation and Cleanup Responsibility / Oversight

The EPA leads site investigation and cleanup activities in cooperation with the NCDENR.

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Site Cleanup Plan

After completing the RI/FS, the EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan to address any contamination and related risk to people and the environment. After receiving input from the NCDENR and the community, the EPA will issue the final cleanup plan (a Record of Decision, or ROD). After issuing the plan, the EPA will begin preparations to carry out the approved cleanup activities.


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Cleanup Progress

There are three homes on Hemphill Road where concentrations of TCE above the MCL were found in the private drinking water supplies. In 2012, the EPA equipped these three homes with whole house filters. During 2012 and 2013, the NCDENR monitored the effectiveness of these filters quarterly and then, in November 2013, the EPA replaced the three filters per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Other homes and one community well have detections of TCE, but the concentrations detected are not above the MCL.  As part of the RI/FS, EPA will implement a private/community water well sampling program to continue monitoring the drinking water supplies in the area around the site.

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Enforcement Activities

The EPA is funding site investigation and cleanup activities.

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Community Involvement

The EPA is working 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.

The EPA will conduct a range of community involvement activities to solicit community input and to make sure the public remains informed about site activities throughout the cleanup process. Outreach efforts will include public notices, fact sheets and informational meetings on cleanup progress and activities.

In March 2013, the EPA, the NCDENR and the North Carolina Division of Public Health held a public meeting to update the community on the proposal to list the site on the NPL and on the private/community water well monitoring efforts that have been conducted by NCDENR and EPA. A public meeting was held on April 15, 2014, to discuss the site history and the planned RI/FS sampling activities and to address community questions and concerns about the site.

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Future Work

The EPA is conducting the site’s remedial investigation/feasibility study to understand the type, source and extent of contamination. After completing it, the EPA will issue a proposed cleanup plan.

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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

Gaston County Public Library
1555 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
(704) 868-2167

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