History of Brown & Bryant Superfund Site

Location of Brown & Bryant, Inc. Plant, Arvin, Kern Co., CA

Location and Site Maps of Brown & Bryant Superfund Site, Arvin, Kern Co., CA

The following italicized passages describing the B&B Superfund Site and its history are taken from the “Description and History” provided on the US EPA’s website on the Brown & Bryant Site, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (US ACE), “Second Five-Year Review Report for Brown and Bryant Site, Arvin, Kern County, California,” conducted for the US EPA,

“The Brown & Bryant, Inc. (Arvin Plant) covers about 5 acres in Arvin, California. The company began operations in 1960 as a formulator of agricultural chemicals including fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fumigants. During inspections by State agencies, improper handling and disposal of hazardous wastes at the facility have been documented. Accidental spills of pesticides have occurred at the site. In 1979, an evaporation pond was built in the southeastern corner of the site. When the facility was operating, the pond received pesticide rinse water and surface runoff from the site. As a result of heavy rains, this pond overflowed on at least two occasions. The closest public well is located about 1,700 feet south and downgradient of the site. The Arvin Community Services District maintains six municipal groundwater wells within 1 mile of the site. The public water system supplies drinking water to approximately 7,800 people and irrigates about 19,600 acres of cropland. The area surrounding the site is industrial, agricultural, and residential.”

“Environmental investigations began in 1983. In 1989, EPA took a lead cleanup role under the Superfund Program, which began with an emergency response removal action. The original cleanup decision, signed November 8, 1993, specified that surface soil be consolidated onto the former spill area, then covered with a RCRA engineered cap. A non-RCRA asphaltic cap was constructed over the remainder of the site.”

“The largest releases on-site were from a waste pond, a sump area, and a dinoseb storage area. The waste pond was used to collect runoff water from the yard and from two sumps. The pond was also used to collect rinse water from rinse tanks used for fumigants. Excess pond water and rain water runoff also collected in a topographically low area to the south of the pond. In addition, water collecting on the site from precipitation and irrigation occasionally breached the berm at the southeast corner of the site and drained into the pond. The pond was double lined with a synthetic liner in November 1979, and the original unlined sump was replaced with two double-lined sumps in 1980. Dinoseb was stored in a smaller tank storage area along the eastern fence, just north of the pond. In 1983, there was a significant Dinoseb spill in this area.

“Past inspections by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (CVRWQCB) documented many instances of poor facility operations and maintenance practices (EPA, 2004). These inspections noted an on-site tank holding the chemical dinoseb and two unlined ponds for pesticide wastes were identified as being potential contaminant release areas. Past inspections also identified a 25,000-gallon pond had overflowed twice, and an on-site 560,000-gallon tank had leaked. In 1983 soil and groundwater sampling and analysis identified dinoseb as a COC with maximum concentrations exceeding 7,000,000 micrograms per kilogram (ug/kg) in soil. These peak concentrations of dinoseb impact occurred in a former spill area along the east fence line and beneath a former pond and sump. In 1984, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) identified various pesticides in on-site wells, including 1,2-dibromo-3- chloropropane, ethylene dibromide, dinoseb, 1,2-dichloropropane, and chlorobenzene (EPA, 2004).

“In 1989, the site was listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. Subsequently various emergency and removal actions were initiated to minimize or eliminate immediate threats to human health and the environment.”

This listing was for the contamination of soil and groundwater with DBCP, chloroform, 1,2-DCP, 1,3-DCP, EDB, TCP, and dinoseb.

“From 1983 through 1988, B&B conducted several soil and groundwater investigations and remedial actions under CDHS supervision. The most significant work included the installation of 10 monitoring wells and the removal, in 1987, of some heavily contaminated soil beneath the two sumps and waste pond (EPA, 1993a). The lined waste pond in the southeast corner of the site was excavated in August 1987 by B&B. The liner and approximately 640 cubic yards of soil that showed visible signs of contamination were removed from the past pond. The depths of this excavation ranged from approximately 1.5 feet on the sides to 5 feet near the center (EPA, 2004). B&B hired two engineering firms to conduct soil and groundwater investigations. The soil impacted with COCs was also removed during one of these investigations and on-site soils were collected and analyzed for organics and trace metals (EPA, 1993a). The results of the analyses indicated high concentrations of pesticides in the soil. Generally, contamination was shallow with several areas contaminated with dinoseb. High concentrations of dinoseb were detected in soil along the east fence line. Contamination appeared to be most pronounced beneath former chemical handling areas. These areas include former sump location, former waste pond, and location of the dinoseb spill (EPA, 1993a).

“Following listing of the site on the NPL in 1989, EPA immediately conducted an emergency response assessment and identified two areas needing immediate attention, a dinoseb spill area, and the groundwater which appeared to pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to the municipal drinking water. EPA treated the dinoseb contaminated soil in the winter of 1991 under its emergency response authorities.

“In October 1990, EPA issued general notice letters to two other site property owners, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and Southern Pacific Transportation Company (the Railroads). In January 1991, EPA issued the Railroads an administrative order to conduct certain investigations of the groundwater at the site. The work was completed in August of 1992.”

The US EPA B&B website reports that both groundwater and soils of the B&B site are polluted by hazardous chemicals that are a threat to public health and the environment. “Soil contains numerous pesticides such as dinoseb, ethylene dibromide and other fumigants. The groundwater also is contaminated with pesticides. People who accidentally ingest or come into direct contact with contaminated groundwater or soil may be at public health risk.”

In the period since the US EPA initiated investigation of the B&B site in 1987, the US EPA has developed a series of reports on the site investigation, proposed remediation approaches, and remediation completed at the site. The US EPA has maintained a website on the Site. That website contains information on "Description and History, Contaminants and Risks, Who is Involved, Potentially Responsible Parties, Documents and Reports, Contacts, Investigation and Cleanup Activities, Progress Profile (EPA Headquarters Webpage), Cleanup Results to Date, Community Involvement, Public Information Repositories and Additional Links.” Additional information on the B&B Superfund site is presented in other sections of that website and this CBA_BBSite website.

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