delware environmental institute

News Journal: EPA tries to map a toxic legacy in and under Metachem site

Snow flurries rode a faint chemical breeze across Red Lion Creek marsh near Delaware City on Thursday as Environmental Protection Agency contractors maneuvered a sediment probe across cold muck and crackling reeds. The labor, science and mothball-like aromas were legacies of the Standard Chlorine/Metachem debacle, a 2002 chemical plant bankruptcy that followed years of spills, loose regulation and illegal operations that left state and federal taxpayers with a cleanup bill last estimated at $100 million. 

It is a number that could push higher, even after a dozen years of government control and study, as efforts to locate and measure contamination and nail down new cleanup and containment strategies for soil and groundwater continue. A separate agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, is assisting, while also mapping threats to a deep aquifer, the Potomac, used for public utility drinking water wells to the north and south.