DNREC: Mallinckrodt Veterinary, Inc. agrees to $2.75 million consent settlement for contaminant investigation and cleanup

DOVER – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Mallinckrodt Veterinary, Inc. have entered into a consent decree by order of DNREC Secretary David Small which requires the company to reimburse DNREC more than $2.75 million for past costs associated with an investigation and contamination cleanup near Millsboro.

The site was a former poultry vaccine manufacturing plant where the contaminant trichloroethylene, commonly known as TCE, was used in certain aspects of the facility’s operations.

The settlement amount is by far the largest in the history of Delaware’s Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) program administered by DNREC’s Site Investigation & Restoration Section, and reverts to the HSCA program for further site cleanup as needed within Delaware, DRNEC announced Monday..

The consent order enables DNREC to recover all costs from Mallinckrodt and Intervet corporate entities incurred by the department at the site through March 31, 2014. Mallinckrodt also agreed to responsibility for any future unreimbursed oversight costs for DNREC not covered under the cooperative agreement for the contaminated site, dated Sept. 21, 2012, between DNREC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Mallinckrodt Veterinary, Inc. and Intervet, Inc. also entered into administrative settlements with the EPA for the investigation and remediation of the Millsboro site. DNREC continues to review and provide comment on technical documents on site remediation, with cost supported by a cooperative agreement with EPA. In addition DNREC will be considering Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) against the responsible parties in the future.

TCE was used at the site for the manufacturing of poultry vaccines between 1952 and August 1999. The site’s operation as a poultry vaccine manufacturing plant resulted in the release of hazardous substances, including TCE, into the soil and groundwater. Previous owners and/or operators of the source area property included: Hiram N. Lasher; Delaware Poultry Laboratories, Inc.; Sterwin Laboratories; Mallinckrodt Veterinary, Inc., and Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation.

The poultry vaccine manufacturing building was demolished in December 1999 and is currently a vacant lot.

In October 2005, the Division of Public Health (DPH)-Office of Drinking Water announced that TCE had been detected at levels higher than acceptable by DPH regulations.

Five months earlier, Dagsboro’s water supply had been connected to the Millsboro public water system; residents of both Millsboro and Dagsboro were immediately cautioned not to use the public water supply and bottled water was provided to residents for drinking purposes.

A carbon filtration system was installed by the Town of Millsboro in November 2005 to treat the groundwater to acceptable levels. Subsequent water tests demonstrated that filtration system has successfully removed TCE from the water supply. The advisory on using the public water supply was lifted by the DPH in December 2005 and TCE was not detected in any of the private wells sampled.

Between Dec. 12, 2005 and Nov. 15, 2007, DNREC completed a groundwater investigation, which consisted of collection and screening analysis of nearly 300 groundwater samples from 95 geoprobe borings. DNREC’s Site Investigation and Restoration Section identified a source of high TCE contamination on a property located in the area (225 West DuPont Highway). DNREC determined that this property was the source of the contamination that affected the water supply wells located in Millsboro. Based on laboratory screening of groundwater samples collected, it was also determined that the groundwater plume was confined to a narrow area.

On April 29, 2009, the State of Delaware requested that the EPA add the Millsboro TCE site to the National Priority List.

On Sept. 23, 2009, the Millsboro public well site was proposed for EPA’s National Priorities List. On May 10, 2010, Mallinckrodt Veterinary, Inc. and Intervet, Inc. entered into an administrative settlement and order on consent for removal response action with EPA which was amended Nov. 26, 2010. A second such order to perform an engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) with EPA was entered into by Mallinckrodt and Intervet Jan. 31, 2011.

Costs incurred by DNREC include but are not limited to removal and disposal of two tanks and their TCE-impacted contents, as well as approximately 210 tons of impacted soil and debris excavated and transported to a disposal facility. Additionally, there were numerous soil and soil gas vapor samples taken, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, a chemical oxidation  pilot study, a preliminary risk assessment for the site, a hydraulic evaluation, a preliminary site characterization, a preliminary risk evaluation, and a pilot reinjection test (for treated groundwater).

Editor’s Note: Information in this article was provided by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.

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