a community newspaper serving western Albemarle County

Acme Site to Be Readied for Sale

Demolition at the Acme site began in November.

Demolition at the Acme site began in November.

A more aggressive approach to cleaning up solvents left in some soil at the former Acme Visible Records site aims to have the property ready for the real estate market as a light industrial parcel by 2016, officials with Atlanta Environmental Management told a crowd of interested citizens in Crozet Library Nov. 18.

Acme manufactured filing and storage systems on the 52-acre site from 1950 to 2001 and a kidney-shaped area of soil, partly under the railroad tracks, contains chemical degreasers that leached below a lacquering operation.

The property is now owned by Wilson Jones Company, which is responsible for the cleanup. A bioremediation strategy to clean the soil was begun in 2007 using wells that pumped bacteria through the ground, with cleanup expected by 2013, but the restoration of the soil has not kept up with that timetable.

AEM’s J.R. Hipple said the object is to return the property to productive use and that in the course of assessing the situation no new concerns about the site were discovered. Also on hand was Ryan Kelley of

the Virginia Department of Environmental Services, which is overseeing the cleanup.

AEM project manager Leona Miles said demolition of the main building down to the slab, as well as the former credit union house, began Nov. 19 and is expected to take through January. She said all the demolition material would be recycled or reused. An existing wood shop will not be touched.

A report to DEQ on the site was done in 2012, Miles said, and Crozet Library has a copy of the cleanup plan now in progress.

A final cleanup plan is now being prepared for DEQ to approve, she said. The available remedies are to excavate the soil, treat it in place with a cap, or more water pumping. “The most likely solution is excavation and off-site disposal,” she said.

“Off-site” means sent to a special EPA-approved landfill for contaminated soils, said AEM president Janet Hart. The nearest one is in Alabama.

Because the plan needs an amendment to its hazardous waste permit, it will get a 45-day public comment period and a public hearing date before DEQ announces a decision, Miles said.

Tony Potter, a near neighbor of the site, asked how zoning affected the clean up and Kelly answered that the standard being applied was for the property’s existing zoning, light industrial. For residential use it would have to be cleaned to a higher standard, he said.

“The affected area is kidney bean-shaped, south from the main building, under a former paint shop, and under the tracks,” said AEM project manager Eric Stern. Forty-eight ground water monitoring wells are on the property. “The plume is not expanding,” he reported. “The contaminants are ‘chlorinated organics,’ degreasing agents,” he explained, “and some oil and diesel spills.”

Kelley said the sampling “shows variation. Some locations are stable and some show shifts. Some show that contaminants are degrading.” Kelley said he thinks fluctuations in the water table during periods of heavier rain or drought account for the data.

Stern said there is “no evidence of spreading and no contamination of water outside the property line.”

“Even in 2008, bioremediation was not considered a final solution,” said Miles. “But we wanted to get something going. The owner wants the cleanup completed.”

Asked to compare to the job to other done by AEM, which has a 30-year track record in environmental cleanup, Hart said, “This is better than a lot we see. But it is typical of what we see.” The cost of the job is in the millions, she said.

Once DEQ approves the plan, the slab will be removed. The soil will be excavated, analyzed, and probably retreated before being shipped to a hazardous waste landfill.

Residents from Foothill Crossing expressed worry over reports of former lagoons and were told that those had been previously excavated, refilled with clean fill dirt, and then sealed under a liner. More soil was put on top and planted on. Because the cap can’t be disturbed, the lagoon area cannot be built on in the future. Miles said that their cleanup is over and that they pose “no danger to vegetable gardens.”  A stream below them is being regularly sampled, added Stern.


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