Hazardous Waste Cleanup: IBM Corporation in Manassas, Virginia

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Cleanup Status

In 1989, EPA and IBM entered into a Consent Order, requiring IBM to evaluate cleanup options. In 1990, the Final Remedy for cleanup was selected. The Remedy requires continued on-site soil/rock vapor extraction and continued recovery of contaminated Ground Water by the existing pumping and treatment system, using carbon absorption to remove contaminants. These treatment systems are monitored and upgraded as needed.

EPA’s Environmental Indicator analysis found that potential human exposures to contamination on-site are ‘under control,’ and that Ground Water contamination in the local and regional deep plume has been delineated and contained.

The primary Facility-related contaminant is tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene (PCE) or perc. There are lesser amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE), and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene (cis-1,2-DCE) present. These chemicals are classified as chlorinated volatile organic compounds (cVOCs) and were used as solvents, degreasers and in manufacturing processes at the Facility. The cVOCs were discovered on- and off-site in soil/rock vapor and groundwater. IBM installed vapor and groundwater recovery and treatment systems for on and off-site. Recently, IBM expanded the existing recover/treatment systems to capture more contamination in the shallow subsurface soil/rock and groundwater zones by Building 101 (on-site) and along the northeastern property boundary with the residential Bristoe Station community.

IBM uses five on- and off-site pumping wells to recover contaminated ground water (GW), and pumps the water through carbon absorption tanks to remove the cVOCs. To collect subsurface contaminated vapor from soil and rock, IBM uses twelve vapor extraction wells (VEWs) with eight air in-let wells located on-site.

In February 2011, IBM began off-site GW and vapor investigations in and around the McRae Court area, located in the Bristoe Station development. McRae Court is located next to the former IBM facility, near the area where solvent tanks were once located. GW and vapor implant wells were installed outside of McRae Court townhomes. The investigation results were reported to EPA in IBM’s “Interim Report of Findings dated July 2011” by Sanborn, Head and Associates. The Report documented that Facility-related cVOCs were present in the McRae Court area in soil/rock vapor and groundwater at various depths beneath the surface. The Interim Report is posted on Additional Site Information  .

In June 2012, more GW and vapor wells were installed in the McRae Court neighborhood to further delineate and characterize contamination. The data and findings are posted at Additional Site Information  (Investigation Data Report, Dec. 2012 and 12-Month Monitoring Data Report, Jan. 2013.

In February 2013, IBM conducted indoor air monitoring in eleven participating homes in McRae Court. The site-related compounds (cVOCs) were not found in indoor air at levels indicating a risk to health. The cVOCs found were considered to be within background levels typical for residential structures. The data and findings of this investigation are in the “Summary Report or Indoor Air Sampling, August 2013” at  Additional Site Information .

The GW recovery and treatment system is shrinking the regional cVOC plume located in deeper bedrock. The VEW system is capturing vapor from the subsurface and will continue to be monitored and evaluated for performance. Vapor and GW sampling occurs twice annually.

Cleanup - Background

In 1978, IBM began GW monitoring and found chlorinated solvents in GW. Specifically PCE, TCE, DCE and TCA were found. As a result, IBM completed the following activities:

IBM removed the suspected sources of contamination by: removing (1) one waste solvent tank (20,000 gallon capacity), (2) two waste acid tanks (20,000 gallon capacity each), (3) about 1,227 tons of contaminated soil associated with the tanks, (4) several above- and underground tanks of various capacities, (5) about 1,407 tons of soil and debris associated with the tanks, and (6) closed a waste solvent pipe between two buildings, and (7) immobilized fluoride found in soil in one area.

Investigation, monitoring and treatment of groundwater (GW) contamination: IBM installed 49 on- and 45 off-site wells. GW treatment began on-site in 1985. After local approvals were obtained, off-site GW treatment began in 1997. The PCE plume had migrated off-site towards a public well in the Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) system. IBM installed a treatment system at the public well in 1985, and in 2001, the PWCSA discontinued use of the well. IBM leases the well for use as part of the contaminated GW recovery system. The GW recovery system consists of pumping contaminated GW from the three on-site and two off-site recovery wells to carbon absorption tanks where the cVOCs are removed. The treated water is discharged to receiving streams under a permit issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since 2001, the former public well was not used as a drinking water supply, and was never used to supply Bristoe Station.

Investigating on-site subsurface soil and rock, removing and treating VOC vapor: IBM began operating a vapor extraction system in areas around Building 101, where the solvent tanks were located.

In 1989, EPA and IBM entered into a Consent Order, requiring IBM to evaluate cleanup options. In 1990, the Final Remedy for cleanup was selected. The Remedy requires continued on-site soil/rock vapor extraction and continued recovery of contaminated GW by the existing pumping and treatment system, using carbon absorption to remove contaminants. These treatment systems are monitored and upgraded as needed.

In 2007, IBM re-characterized the extent of the PCE GW plume, based on two decades of data. The ‘Groundwater Characterization Report (March 2008)’ provided data that showed that the extent of PCE in groundwater is contained and shrinking. The pump and treatment system has been effective in achieving this milestone, and will continue to operate until clean-up goals are met. The soil/rock vapor extraction system is located near the former IBM property line (Building 101 area), adjacent to the Bristoe Station townhomes.

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Site Description

Interactive Map of IBM Corporation, Manassas, VA

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In 1969, IBM began manufacturing electronic components in Building 101 at their 600-acre facility. In 1975, IBM ceased manufacturing operations at Building 101 and ceased all manufacturing at the facility in 1994. By 2007, IBM had sold the Facility. Lockheed Martin Corporation , Micron Technonolgies, and other businesses are currently located on the property. IBM retains Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action responsibility for the investigation and clean-up of past releases.


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Contaminants at this Facility

The primary contaminant in soil, soil and rock vapor and GW is perchloroethylene (PCE), with lesser amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE), and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene (cis-1,2-DCE). PCE and TCE are considered likely human carcinogens (cancer causing), with other health effects (non-cancer), depending on the amount of the chemical ingested, inhaled or in contact with skin over time. Cis-1,2-DCE is classified as a non-cancer causing compound, but also has adverse health effects, depending on the dose over time.

The EPA’s maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) or maximum allowable levels established for public water supplies for PCE and TCE is 5 parts per billion (ppb). For cis-1,2-DCE, the MCL is 70 ppb. The treated ground water discharged from IBM’s water treatment system meets EPA’s drinking water standards, although this water is not used as drinking water.

EPA has established inhalation levels for these three contaminants for indoor settings. Tests of the indoor air in Building 101 showed that by maintaining positive pressure in the building with the heating and cooling system, the indoor air meets EPA’s risk based levels for acceptable risk.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Groundwater use for public water supply was discontinued in the area north of the former IBM facility in 2002. The Prince William County Service Authority (PWCSA) began providing water from other regional water companies in September 2002. IBM uses the PWCSA well (PW-07) water (located north of the former IBM facility) and other wells to control the groundwater plume by withdrawing and treating contaminated water before discharging to local streams. IBM monitors ground water quality and water levels throughout and beyond the contaminated plume.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

IBM no longer owns the property. The property is currently being used for non-residential use by other owners/operators such as Lockheed Martin, Micron Technologies, the US Government, and others. IBM continues to retain responsibility for RCRA corrective action clean-up for the facilities.

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Site Responsiblity at this Facility

RCRA Corrective Action activities at this facility are being conducted under the direction of the EPA Region 3 with assistance from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

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