Investigation of Closed Solvay Polymer Facility

DNREC Reaches Settlement with Company for Investigation, Possible Remediation at Site

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control today announced a settlement with Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC to address perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) allegedly released from the company’s facility in the Marshallton area of New Castle County.

On Sept. 11, 2020 DNREC notified Solvay that it is a potentially responsible party (PRP) for the alleged PFAS release and offered the company an opportunity to enter DNREC’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) in accordance with Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) regulations.

Solvay is an international company that recently closed and decommissioned its facility located at 800 Greenbank Road in Marshallton. Solvay processed polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) by irradiating the PTFE feedstock, then milling it to a fine powder that was sold as product.

Under the terms of the settlement, Solvay must perform a comprehensive environmental investigation at the site and at potentially affected surrounding areas under the oversight of DNREC’s Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances. Based on the results of the remedial investigation, an appropriate remedy will be proposed to address any soil, sediment, surface water, and groundwater contamination which may be discovered at the site and in the surrounding areas affected by a release from the Solvay plant. At present, DNREC’s soil, sediment, and surface-water testing has not identified any known potential for health concerns for residents in the surrounding neighborhood or along Red Clay Creek.

To view the settlement, visit the DNREC website at https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/secretarys-orders/enforcement/.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. The Division of Air Quality monitors and regulates all emissions to the air. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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DNREC Updates A-Street Ditch PCB Cleanup Pilot Project

A new report prepared for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control indicates that the innovative technology being tested in Wilmington’s A-Street Ditch cleanup pilot project continues to show promise. The report summarizes data collected one year after biologically-enhanced carbon pellets were applied to sediments in the ditch to clean up polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Conducted by the DNREC’s Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration (WATAR) program, the technology deployed in the A-Street Ditch project uses an activated carbon product (SediMite™) with the addition of PCB-destroying micro-organisms. The activated carbon sequesters PCBs and over time the micro-organisms degrade and destroy PCB molecules. A similar technology was successfully demonstrated in an earlier DNREC project at Mirror Lake in Dover.

PCBs are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic legacy industrial compounds. They pose ecological and human health risks and are the largest contributor to fish consumption advisories issued periodically by DNREC and the Delaware Division of Public Health.

Results of DNREC’s July 2020 sampling of the A-Street Ditch show reduced concentrations of dissolved PCBs in the sediment porewater – the water trapped between grains of sediment in the bottom of a water body – across the entire project area. Results from two of the nine samples that were collected in July 2020 (one surface water sample and one sediment sample) showed localized increases in PCB concentrations. The WATAR team is evaluating potential reasons for these increases and will make their findings public when available. DNREC is planning to assess PCB concentrations in sediment, surface water and sediment porewater again in July.

DNREC’s A-Street Ditch pilot project was supported by Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) funds and a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency multi-purpose grant. Visit the DNREC-WATAR webpage for monitoring reports about the A-Street Ditch project. Additional information about the Mirror Lake-Dover project can also be found on the DNREC-WATAR webpage.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media contact: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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Christmas Tree Recycling – a Delaware Post-Holiday Tradition – Continues Statewide for 2020/2021

Drop Your Tree at a Yard Waste Site or Call Your Waste Collector

Delawareans who have celebrated their holidays can help the environment by recycling their Christmas trees at one of the many yard waste recycling facilities located throughout the state.

Residents can choose from many sites in Delaware to drop off their Christmas tree. Some of these sites accept trees at no cost, while others charge for the service. Before dropping off trees, call the site in advance to see what restrictions are in place and if there is a charge. Residents who pay for curbside collection service should call their waste hauler to see if they offer Christmas tree pickup. Trees may be accepted as soon as Dec. 26 and as late as Jan. 28, 2021, but each facility has its own schedule. Commercial haulers or landscapers should call a facility prior to delivering loads of trees.

Whether dropping off a Christmas tree or having it collected, prepare it to be recycled into mulch by stripping off all decorations and lights, removing any flocking (fake snow) and detaching tree stands. Christmas trees are no longer accepted for recycling at Delaware State Parks.

Christmas tree recycling saves valuable landfill space. Over 173,000 tons of yard waste, which includes grass, leaves, brush, trees and other lawn/landscape materials, was recycled in 2019. Prior to Delaware’s yard waste ban, many of these materials — considered resources — were sent to landfills, taking up valuable space rather than being handled through local markets for mulch and home composting.

Kent County will collect Christmas trees only from Jan. 4 to 8 and  Jan. 11 to 15, 2021 (on customers’ regular trash day) for those in trash districts that have yard waste collection service. New Castle and Sussex trash customers should check with their waste haulers for information about tree pickup. If pickup is unavailable from their haulers, check the list of yard waste drop-off sites at de.gov/yardwaste.

Delawareans also are reminded that Jan. 17, 2021 is the last day to drop materials off at the Polly Drummond Hill Road yard waste site. It will close for the season on Jan. 18, 2021 and reopen for the spring on March, 20, 2021. More information can be found at de.gov/yardwaste.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov

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DNREC Analysis of Brandywine River Dam Sediments Reveals Encouraging Results

Scientists from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control published research today related to sediment quality behind eight dams in the Brandywine River, which finds there would be low risk of harm to fish or human health from toxic compounds if the sediments were released due to dam modification, removal or failure.

Conducted by DNREC’s Watershed Approach to Toxics Assessment and Restoration (WATAR) team, results of the study indicate that the volume of sediment trapped behind the dams is less than originally predicted, which translates to an overall lack of legacy toxic contaminant buildup. The report compares concentrations of contaminants in accumulated sediment across the eight dams investigated, and describes techniques used to evaluate potential impacts from the contaminants to aquatic life and human health. The overall findings are encouraging, as an increase in risk of adverse effects from the release of trapped sediments is not predicted.

A release of trapped sediments is likely to occur during dam modification/removal, or from catastrophic failure of any of the aged dams during a major storm/high flow event. Understanding potential impacts from the release of these sediments will allow DNREC to effectively influence proposed construction projects in the river to provide regulatory protection to downstream drinking water sources, and to fish health and aquatic habitat.

Brandywine Shad 2020 (BS2020) is a nonprofit led by the Brandywine Conservancy, the Hagley Museum and Library, and the University of Delaware. The nonprofit initiated the sediment study to inform their mission to remove or modify the dams in the Delaware portion of the Brandywine River to promote passage of American Shad and other fish species to “pre-dam” historic spawning grounds.

The Brandywine River surface water, sediment and aquatic species have been impacted by legacy contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, and chlorinated pesticides. This condition is evidenced by the existence of fish consumption advisories in both the non-tidal and tidal portions of the river. However, recent improvements have been documented, and future improvements are anticipated.

The report noted that opportunities exist to improve the overall water/sediment quality of the Brandywine River system in the future. Data collected in this study show that there are areas of greater relative concentrations of toxic compounds than others. And although increased risk of toxicity due to sediment release may not be predicted, evaluation should be conducted at the time of specific project planning/implementation to determine if a benefit to the ecosystem as a whole could be accomplished as a result of sediment removal or sediment management activities.

“The results of this evaluation provide peace of mind that the City of Wilmington’s drinking water, as well as the aquatic life in the river, should not be negatively affected by any release of contaminants associated with sediments behind the dams.” said John Cargill, hydrologist for DNREC. “Beyond this study, DNREC will continue to monitor the quality of the surface water and the fish in the Brandywine River, along with other water bodies throughout the state.

WATAR is a cooperative approach/project team that draws on the expertise of staff primarily within, but not limited to, the DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship and the Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances. WATAR creates a framework for assessing potential toxic impacts and then implementing remediation and restoration projects in Delaware watersheds that are affected by toxic pollutants.

DNREC-WATARs partnership with BS2020 resulted in a total state cost of $51,000 for chemical analysis of sediment samples. Analytical services were supported by Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA) funds. BS2020 funded the sediment sample collection activities. Visit the program web page at de.gov/WATAR to review/download the report and for additional supporting information.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Watershed Stewardship develops and implements innovative watershed assessment, monitoring and implementation activities. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Plastic Carryout Bag Ban Effective on Jan. 1, 2021

Consumers and some businesses in Delaware will no longer be able to use or distribute single-use plastic carryout bags at the point-of-sale starting January 1. Plastic carryout bags are commonly used to take items home from convenience, grocery and other retail stores. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control urges consumers to bring reusable bags to stores instead and to clean/disinfect those bags between uses.

The ban is designed to reduce beach and roadside litter, save landfill space, increase recycling efforts and help recycling facilities from having to shut down when plastic bags get stuck in the machinery.

“Each Delawarean uses about 434 plastic bags and that means nearly 2,400 tons of plastic bags end up in our landfills annually,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. “A decrease by the public of plastic carryout bags can mitigate a large portion of this waste, and help our environment by reducing the amount plastic bags on our roads and waterways that can harm us and our wildlife.”

House Bill 130 implementing the ban was sponsored by 12 legislators led by Rep. Gerald Brady and Sen. Trey Paradee, and was passed in 2019 and signed by Gov. John Carney.

Retailers can choose to offer paper bags, or cloth bags, or a thicker type of plastic bag that is designed to be reusable. The law allows retail stores to charge a fee for the bags they provide at point of sale. DNREC advises consumers to wash or disinfect their reusable bags by turning them inside out and wiping them down with a disinfecting agent after each use.

Under the law, plastic carryout bags will no longer be available from larger stores (more than 7,000 square feet) as well as smaller stores with at least three locations in Delaware of 3,000 square feet each or more. Supermarkets and big-box stores are affected, as well as chains of convenience stores. Restaurants are not subject to the ban, nor are small stores with one or two locations.

All retail stores affected by the law are required to provide an At-Store Recycling program for plastic bags and other specific plastics, like cereal box liners, newspaper sleeves, and single-use produce or meat bags. The drop-off locations should be visible and accessible within the store. Bags that are no longer reusable or unwanted should be recycled at these locations. Plastic bags should not be placed in carts that are part of the state’s curbside recycling program but should instead be returned to stores for recycling.

Consumers and retailers can find more information at de.gov/bags .

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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