By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Monitoring wells are being installed at Electroplate-Rite in Dublin to check for contaminants in groundwater, according to Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Elizabeth Lohman, environmental program planner for DEQ, said the wells are a response to “complaints about the release of hazardous substances to subsurface soils through holes (sumps) in a plating room floor and an exterior wall.”
Electroplate-Rite spokesman Keith Dickerson said the company has been working with DEQ and Lohman for several months “to determine if the compromised sumps have resulted in a release from our facility.
“To date all soil samples that have been collected and analyzed have indicated that no constituents have been released in concentrations that exceed federal industrial risk based standards,” Dickerson said. “Sampling of soils has been performed in the immediate vicinity of the compromised sumps outside of the limits of the building, as well as in several locations beneath the floor of the active plating lines.”
He added, “We have also agreed to have the groundwater sampled and tested and will be prepared to take appropriate action, if necessary, under the applicable state and federal regulations. We do not believe there has been a release to groundwater but want to confirm that. As there is public water in the area, there would be no threat to human health in any event.”
Lohman said the Dublin facility was requested to install wells to investigate whether groundwater has been contaminated. She noted a complaint was received at the EPA’s National Response Center (NRC), a clearinghouse for reports of possible environmental contamination, in October 2011.
According to Lohman, two separate complaints were received by DEQ and EPA. “The complaint received by the DEQ alleged that hazardous substances were being released through pitted holes in the plating room concrete floor. In the complaint received by the EPA, the complainant alleged releases occurring through an external wall. In the latter case, the DEQ and EPA discovered two floor sumps adjacent to the exterior wall. The sumps were compromised and liquid from the sumps had seeped through the cinder block wall,” she said.
According to an Oct. 27, 2011 report found on the NRC website, a letter from “a concerned Electroplate-Rite Corp. employee and Pulaski County citizen” alleges “coustic zinc has been leaching through the wall for years.” The complaint adds that the auto rack zinc line was shut off, “but the leaching of zinc is in the wall and soil by now.”
The anonymous complainant further alleges that company management was aware of the leaching “but all they do is scrape the wall and paint over it or park the trucks in front of it so no one can see it.”
Lohman said EPA is installing three wells: “one background and two down-gradient.” Groundwater will be collected from the wells and analyzed for “constituents similar to those used in the plating process, such as “metals, volatile organic compounds and cyanide.”
If groundwater contamination is found, Lohan said DEQ will request Electroplate-Rite to prepare and implement a cleanup plan for any hazardous substances found to be in excess or regulatory standards.