From 1970 to 1984, the Shaffer Equipment Company built electrical substations for the local coal mining industry. The substations incorporated various types of transformers, capacitors, switches, and related voltage regulation and distribution devices. Oil containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was used in the electrical transformers and other equipment. The Shaffer Equipment Company stored nonessential, damaged or outdated transformers and capacitors on the site property.
The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (WVDNR) inspected the site in September 1984 and found several hundred transformers and capacitors on the site. Analysis of a composite surface soil sample and a grab soil/sediment sample from a site drainage ditch to Arbuckle Creek indicated elevated levels of PCBs in the material.
At the request of WVDNR the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) investigated the site and subsequently performed two contaminated soil removal actions. The first removal action was performed from December 1984 through December 1987. The second removal action was conducted from November 1990 through January 1991.
In 1997, the USEPA was notified that an act of vandalism at the site had caused a fire at the remaining building that contained materials with PCBs. The USEPA conducted another assessment and contracted the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) to design a cap for the remaining contaminated soils and building debris. The USACOE completed the construction of the cap in 2002.
In early 2017, residents contacted WVDEP and USEPA to express their continued concern about the potential migration of contamination from the Shaffer Equipment Company Site into the surrounding area.
USEPA is currently conducting an assessment of the Shaffer Equipment Site and the surrounding area in Minden, WV. In June 2017, USEPA collected samples at the Shaffer Equipment Site and approximately one mile down Arbuckle Creek.
In December 2017, USEPA collected surface soil and sediment samples to further delineate and confirm samples results from June 2017.
EPA decided to confirm the December 2017 sample results by using two separate laboratories to analyze the soil from the December 2017 sampling event. EPA had taken split samples for each sample location on December 12-13, 2017. The split samples are a second jar of soil or sediment from the same sample hole and were taken to ensure there was sufficient soil or sediment for future laboratory analysis. A different laboratory’s analysis of the split samples can provide additional verification of the sample results. While the results generally will not be identical, we expect them to be similar.
The split soil samples contain PCBs that are close in value to the original laboratory results. EPA believes that the surface soil sample results are consistent with the numerous sampling events at the site. Results of the PCB analysis from the split samples are summarized in Table 1 for sediment and Table 2 for surface soil. The split samples for the sediment show a slightly higher variation; however, the results are still with the range of the previous results, 0 ppm to 50 ppm.
The split samples may vary from the original results because the soil and sediment samples may have different amounts of organic matter mixed with the mineral composition of the soil. PCBs tend to adhere more to the organic matter so a larger amount of organic matter in the sample can result in a slightly different amount of PCBs, resulting in slight differences in sample results.
The split sample results confirm that there is no immediate threat to human health. Accordingly, no immediate EPA action will be necessary. EPA will include the results from the split samples in EPA’s development of the hazard ranking score (HRS) package. The HRS will determine if the site is recommended for EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The site was added to the NPL on May 15, 2019.