Environmental Response and Revitalization Site Summary

John Mercer Property

The John Mercer Property is located at 3880 Hardscrabble Road in a rural area northeast of the Village of Alexandria in Licking County. The site consists of approximately 54 acres and is surrounded by residential and farm land.

This site was originally investigated by the Ohio EPA Special Investigations Unit (SIU) as a result of anonymous citizen complaints in mid-1990. Allegations included the disposal of drums and solid waste on the property. It was learned during the investigation that the former owner, John Mercer (deceased), was paid by Hanna Chemical (now known as AKZO Coating, Inc. in Columbus) to dispose of some of Hanna’s drummed waste in the early 1970s. A former employee of Hanna Chemical corroborated this story and indicated that he had contracted Mercer to haul away the drums. These drums reportedly contained materials from paint and solvent spills. The hauling of these wastes may have occurred as often as once every three months each year during the early 1970s. SIU referred the case to the Division of Emergency and Remedial Response/Remedial Response Section (RRS) on Aug. 27, 1991.

The Preliminary Assessment (PA) was completed on July 21, 1992.

A request for assistance from U.S. EPA (removal action request) was sent to U.S. EPA on Aug. 5, 1999. U.S. EPA responded on Aug. 19, 1999, indicating the site had been assigned to an on-scene coordinator. On Aug. 21, 1999, the Kirby Tire Fire (Ohio EPA, Northwest District) occurred and U.S. EPA pulled all of its resources to address this emergency. Therefore, U.S. EPA did not begin the first of two site assessments in preparation for removal actions at the site until Oct. 18, 1999. The second assessment occurred in May 2000. After the completion of the second assessment, U.S. EPA began the process of issuing a removal action order. Akzo-Nobel Coatings contacted U.S. EPA and stated they would like to negotiate a consent order to conduct the removal action. The order was signed on Sept. 14, 2000.

A work plan was received and approved with modifications. An area of drums in a ravine area was identified for assessment and removal. Removal activities began on Oct. 24, 2000. During the course of the investigation of the ravine area, a second area of drums was discovered near the Mercer home. The second area was evaluated and drums were confirmed to be buried in this location. Unlike those in the ravine area, which were deteriorated and for the most part empty, the drums in this second area were mostly full and contained waste materials. The drums from both areas were removed and the associated contaminated soil was removed. 

During the continued removal activities at the site, a total of nine areas of concern were identified for assessment and removal of buried drums. Any drums and contaminated soil discovered in the areas were removed and disposed of at an approved disposal facility. Because of the discovery of more areas of concern, the removal action took longer than originally anticipated.

AKZO agreed to remove any soil from the drum areas that was found to be above the Ohio EPA Voluntary Action Program (VAP) residential use standard. The VAP residential use standard for soil is a risk-based action level and is used to determine future use of a site.

As part of the investigation, on-site ground water monitoring wells were installed to determine if contamination from the drums had impacted the ground water. A series of shallow and deep monitoring wells were installed and sampled. Additionally, existing residential wells adjacent to the site were sampled. A total of seven ground water monitoring wells were installed on the site: three shallow wells and four deep wells. Samples from the wells did not indicate the presence of contaminants attributable to the drum constituents with the exception of one sample, which did show methylene chloride, a common laboratory contaminant. However, the results were well below the U.S. EPA safe drinking water standard for methylene chloride.

Removal activities and associated site restoration activities were completed on Sept. 16, 2002. Samples obtained from the excavation areas indicated soil was removed to below the VAP residential use standards in many cases.

In total:

  • 994 drums containing waste resins and paints were removed.
  • 11,408.54 tons of drums, waste resins, paints and contaminated soils were removed.
  • 86,528 gallons of waste liquids were removed and treated.

On June 10 and 11, 2003, a round of ground water sampling was completed at the site. All wells were sampled and those samples were submitted for analysis. Ohio EPA will review and evaluate the data, once received, to determine if any contamination is present in the ground water. This information will be used to complete the post removal preliminary assessment/site investigation (PA/SI) (formerly the integrated assessment) report for U.S. EPA.

2002 Final Removal Action Report (without Appendices)

Summary date: November 2004