Third Five-Year Review to Begin, Fairfield Coal Gasification Plant Superfund Site, Fairfield, Iowa
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts regular five-year reviews on Superfund sites where cleanups have been completed. These reviews are required by the Superfund law [42 U.S.C. Section 9621 (c)]. EPA Region 7 and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have initiated their third five-year review of the Fairfield Coal Gasification Plant Superfund site in Fairfield, Iowa.
The Fairfield Coal Gasification Plant manufactured blue gas from the late 1870s to mid-1937 and carbureted water gas from mid-1937 until 1950 when the gas system in Fairfield was converted to natural gas. The site is presently being used as an electrical substation.
The manufactured gas process produced two main hazardous waste streams -- tar sludge and spent iron oxide. The tar sludges were often sold or disposed in nearby pits. Some of the tar at Fairfield was pumped to a drainage ditch south of the plant. It is not known whether the iron oxide was disposed on-site or taken elsewhere.
Several primary contaminants were found on-site in the soil and in the ground water. These included metals, such as lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic and cyanide; and organic compounds like benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene, xylene, and poly-nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons.
Three areas were identified as the source of the contamination: the gas holder pit area, the tar separator, and the relief gas holder area.Under EPA oversight, excavation of contaminated source material took place to a depth of 13 feet. Contaminated soil and debris totaling approximately 1,150 cubic yards was transported from the site for incineration.
An on-site ground water recovery and treatment system was put into place in 1990 to pump ground water to where it could be treated inside the operations building. The site was fenced to prevent contact with contaminants that remained on site.
In April 2001, the responsible party approached EPA with a revised approach to the ground water treatment. The amount of contamination being extracted after ten years of continuous pumping was not cost effective. Attempts to maximize contamination extraction were unsuccessful. A five-year study was conducted to determine if ground water was migrating off site and if natural attenuation was occurring with the pump and treat system shut down. The results of this study are currently being reviewed.
FIVE-YEAR REVIEWEPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will study site information during this third five-year review and inspect the site to determine if the remedial action continues to protect human health and the environment. EPA and the state encourage members of the community to ask questions and report any concerns about the site. A final report will be prepared at the end of the review and will be available at the site information repositories.
The site administrative record is available at the following locations:
EPA Region 7
901 N. Fifth St.
Kansas City, Kansas
Fairfield Public Library
Court & Washington streets
Questions or requests for information can be submitted to:
Community Involvement Coordinator
EPA Region 7
901 N. 5th Street
Kansas City, KS 66101
Toll free: 1-800-223-0425