The Cardinal Chemical Company Site is located at 2018 South Beltline Blvd. in Columbia, Richland County, South Carolina. Cardinal has been involved in the manufacturing and research of organic chemicals since the early 1950's. The primary product line consists of organic tin stabilizing compounds (organotins) which are used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
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In February, 2000, a spill occurred at a company which utilizes the same organotin compounds as Cardinal, in the neighboring town of Lexington, South Carolina. The spill severely impacted the Lexington POTW and resulted in a large fish kill. Of all of the organotins, Tributylin (TBT) is the most toxic to aquatic life. In the past, the ship industry used TBT based paints on deep sea ship hulls for antifoulant protection. In September, 2000, as a result of the spill and subsequent fish kill in Lexington, the City of Columbia announced that they would ban all tin based products from entering the Columbia Metro Wastewater Treatment Plant . Subsequently, the City of Columbia discontinued Cardinal's discharge permit for their storm water which contains organotin compounds.
Since their discharge permit was revoked, Cardinal accumulated approximately 2.2 million gallons of organotin contaminated storm water. The storm water was initially pumped from a concrete lined storm water collection sump to a 650 thousand gallon above ground storage tank (AST). Once that tank was filled, Cardinal began pumping the water into frac tanks and staging them on the site. The large AST and a total of 82 ( 20,000 gallon each) frac tanks were full of contaminated water.
In June, 2001 Cardinal informed the SCDHEC that they were planning to cease all operations at the Site at the end of the month. The secured creditor, GMAC, remained on site in an attempt to salvage any remaining items of value from the property. On August 10, 2001 the SCDHEC issued Cardinal Chemical an order to cease and desist, at which time the SCDHEC took control of the property. The SCDHEC mobilized with their contractor to secure the property and assess the hazards. The SCDHEC then referred the Site to EPA's Emergency Response and Removal Branch.
- Dispose of more than 2 million gallons of nonhazardous wastewater that contained low levels of organotins. The waste water came out of 82 frac tanks, a 650,000 gallon above ground storage tank, and several rail cars. Some of the wastewater was low ph and had to be adjusted before disposal.
- Decontaminated the frac tanks and returned them to the tank rental companies.
- Dispose of 1,000 cylinders that contain stannic chloride. Stannic chloride, when released to the atmoshpere, reacts with moisture and forms hydrochloric acid. Due to their conditions, the cylinders will be treated on site.
- Dispose of laboratory chemicals from the plant's quality assurance laboratory.
- Dispose of flammable liquids, corrosive chemicals and other chemicals kept in totes through out the site.
- Dismantle production lines.
- Decontaminate plant's concrete surfaces in order to further minimize the release of organotins residue in the stormwater leaving the site.