Washington — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching a new investigation into groundwater contamination from a PVC facility in Delaware's New Castle County that is already on the Superfund list.
The Delaware City PVC Plant site occupies 400 acres, with a PVC manufacturing facility currently owned and operated by Formosa Plastics Corp., and a surrounding contaminated groundwater plume. The plant was built in 1966 by Stauffer Chemical Co., which used unlined earthen lagoons and pits to dispose of PVC waste and sludge. Stauffer sold the plant to Formosa in May 1981.
Groundwater, used locally for drinking water and agriculture, was found to be contaminated with chemicals, including ethylene dichloride, earning the Delaware City PVC Plant a spot on the federal Superfund list of most contaminated sites in 1983.
Stauffer began cleanup in 1982 but the company was sold in 1987; through a series of acquisitions, Bayer CropScience is Stauffer's successor to the site and is now working with the federal government. Responsibility for cleaning the site stayed with Stauffer after it sold the plant to Formosa, then passed to Bayer. According to the EPA, initial cleanup work agreements with Stauffer did not address contamination of a second, deeper aquifer or in groundwater east of the plant.
The new investigation, with which the government says Bayer is cooperating and will pay for oversight costs, will “determine the nature and extent of groundwater contamination” around the original cleanup location.