Bad smell in Delaware City? DNREC says it’s okay

The old Standard Chlorine/Metachem plant was demolished in 2006. (photo courtesy EPA.gov)

The old Standard Chlorine/Metachem plant was demolished in 2006. (photo courtesy EPA.gov)

Delaware environmental leaders say residents shouldn’t worry about “mothball-type” odors coming from a superfund site near Delaware City.

For the next month, workers will be at the former Standard Oil/Metachem Superfund site working with contaminated soil. From about 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, they’ll be consolidating the soil into a single area that will be capped as part of the remediation effort at the site.

While that working is going on for the next month, the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental control warns that residents might smell “mothball-type” odors crossing the site’s boundaries. DNREC officials say the odors should not be a cause for concern and are not a health risk. DNREC and EPA will be monitoring for dust and volatile organic compounds around the perimeter of the cleanup site to make sure there is no health risk.

The superfund site takes up about 65 acres of land about three miles northwest of Delaware City. From 1966 to 2002 Standard Chlorine and later Metachem manufactured chlorinated benzene compounds. Metachem, which bought the plant in 1998, abruptly closed and declared bankruptcy in 2002.

The site has seen a number of incidents including a 1981 chemical spill and another incident in 1986 when 569,000 gallons of various volatile organic compounds spilled onto the facility’s property and adjacent wetlands. As a result of those incidents, the site was declared one of the EPA’s most hazardous waste sites in 1987. It was placed on EPA’s National Priorities List.

According to the EPA, while the human exposure status is under control at the site, the contaminated ground water status is not under control. That means that the migration of contaminated ground water is not stabilized.

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