Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content




Para-Chem Southern, Inc. (PCS), is a chemical manufacturing plant located between thetowns ofSimpsonville and Fountain Inn in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1985, PCS reported to the SouthCarolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and the EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA), Region IV, Atlanta, that they had buried drums of hazardous waste ontheir property between 1975 and 1979. Subsequent to receiving this report, the EPA proposedthe site for inclusion to the EPA National Priorities List (NPL). The president of PCS reports thatthereare no records of this disposal and that the information initially supplied by him was anecdotal. Currently available data identify various organic and inorganic compounds that were disposed ofat the site.

Residents living in areas around the site have used groundwater as their drinking water sourcein thepast. Although PCS provided for the installation of municipal water supply lines, we do not knowwhether all the local residents are utilizing this source. Groundwater appears to flow in anortheasterly direction from the major contaminant sourceareas located in the eastern portion of thesite. Off-site migration of contaminants has occurred; organic contaminants of concern weredetected in water-bearing zones approximately 300 feet north of the site.

Analyses of environmental sampling data, demographic data, and plausible environmentalpathwaydata show groundwater migration to be the most likely mechanism in which off-site populationsmay be exposed to the contaminants of concern. It is also possible, although somewhat unlikely,that significant windborne migration of contaminated dirt may occur.

This site is classified as an indeterminant public health hazard due to the uncertainty of humanexposure togroundwater contamination on-site and off-site. Currently available evidence does notconclusively demonstrate exposures to any individual or group of individuals from site-relatedcontaminants. Since no individuals are currently known to be exposed to contaminants, there areno health effects expected at the present time.

We recommend that the directional flow and extent of the groundwater contamination be fullycharacterized, that the use of private drinking water wells be investigated, that more extensiveoff-site sampling be conducted, and that future development of the site be restricted.

In accordance with CERCLA, as amended, thedata and information contained in the Para-ChemSouthern Public Health Assessment have been evaluated by the ATSDR Health ActivitiesRecommendation Panel for appropriate follow-up with respect to health actions. No follow-upactions are indicated at this time.


The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), under acooperative agreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), willevaluate the public health significance of this site. SCDHEC will determine whether health effectsare possible and will recommend actions to reduce or prevent possible health effects. ATSDR, inAtlanta, Georgia, is a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesandis authorized by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of1980 (CERCLA) to conduct public health assessments at hazardous waste sites.

A. Site Description and History

Para-Chem Southern, Inc. (PCS) is a chemical-compounding batch plant that produces latexcompounds, acrylic lattices, and adhesives. The plant is located in Greenville County on StateHighway 14 between Simpsonville and Fountain Inn, S.C. The site is located at north latitude 42° 34' 45", west longitude 82° 13' 57" (Appendix A, Figures 1 & 2). The plant has operated atthe 100-acre site since 1965. PCS records indicate that the site was primarily agricultural landwith noknown previous commercial uses.

On February 27, 1985, PCS notified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IVandthe South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) that they hadburied drums in unprotected on-site trenches between 1975 and 1979. Upon notification, theEPAincluded the PCS site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1990.

SCDHEC issued Consent Order 86-17-W requiring PCS to submit a plan for the removal anddisposal of the buried drums and their contents from this burial site. PCS complied with thisorderand used electromagnetic survey techniques to locate the drums. Under SCDHEC supervision,PCSremoved the materials between March and July 1987.

Initially, PCS located three separate trenches, excavated and removed most of thecontaminated soil,and backfilled the trenches. PCS then conducted groundwater investigations as part of theSCDHECconsent order. The results of this groundwater study are not finalized. A fourth burial trench wasmentioned in the SCDHEC files but no descriptive information was included except for a table ofchemicals and a sketch diagram of the trench itself.

Approximately 60% of the site around the plant buildings is enclosed by a chain-link securityfence. The north and east boundaries are not fenced. Security personnel at the main entrance on thesouthside make scheduled inspections of the premises. The eastern boundary is open to a large powerlineright-of-way.

Durbin Creek lies near the NW boundary. The site has remained essentially unchanged sinceitsopening in 1965, although a research building has been added and a process building has beenreplaced following a fire in the 1980s.

PCS used two on-site lagoons to hold wastewater from facility operations. Effluent fromtheselagoons discharged to a stream, a tributary of Big Durbin Creek (Fig. 2) that originates on-site. Several areas have been identified where wastes and other materials were disposed of by PCS(Figure 4).

In January 1985, PCS spilled 3,500 gallons of ethyl acrylate within an earthen containmentdike. Some of this material was burned on-site; however, an undetermined amount spilled over into astorm drainage ditch. The spilled material was removed and disposed of by PCS under SCDHECsupervision.

Since April 1988, PCS has discharged treated process wastewater to the Western CarolinaRegionalsewer system.

PCS installed monitoring wells MW-1 through MW-5 from the late 1970's to the early 1980's;theyinstalled twelve additional monitoring wells and collected soil samples in 1986. An additionaleighteen wells were added later in the latter part of 1986 to further define hydrogeologicconditionsand groundwater flow.

B. Site Visit

On February 2, 1990, project staff, accompanied by an SCDHEC Appalachia II District Officeconsultant, met with the president of PCS. We inspected the plant property, including the areasofdrum disposal; we did not inspect the processing or manufacturing areas. The grounds werewell-maintained, and there was no visible evidence of spilled materials.

Project staff consisting ofWilliam T. Going, MPH performed a site visit of the PCS facility onMarch 31, 1994. Access to the PCS facility is through a secured gate from Highway 14 (Figure 2);a fence borders the site adjacent to Highway 14, but it is not continuous around the site.

As this is an active facility, arrangements were made for a guided tour of the facility. Mr.GeorgeFletcher, P.E. of The Fletcher Group escorted project staff during this visit. Overall, the sitegrounds were well maintained. The former disposal areas are covered with vegetation. The areawhere Lagoon 1 previously existed is now used as a parking area. Lagoon 2 is located next tothisparking area and is opened and partially filled with liquid.

Lagoon 2 represents a physical hazard at the Superfund portion of thesite. This area is not securedfrom the rest of the site and there are no barriers present to prevent someone from falling into thelagoon.

Mr. Fletcher stated that the main concern at this point was groundwater contamination in anon-sitearea to the west of the lagoon area. He also stated that this area was identified in the RI as beinganarea of concern.

The area to the southwest of the site is primarily industrial; however, much of the area aroundthesite is heavily forested. An elementary school and middle school are located approximately onemile east of the site and a hospital and a high school are located approximately one mile to thewest of the site.

C. Demographics, Land Use, and Natural ResourceUse


Data presented in this section are from the 1980 Census (Table 1). PCS is located in asemi-ruralarea of Greenville County, approximately 8-miles south of the city of Greenville. The towns ofSimpsonville and Fountain Inn are located within 1-mile of the site to the northwest and northeast,respectfully.

Table 1.

A*. Demographics for 1-mile radius
  Total Population

B*. Demographics for 4-mile radius
  Total Population 25,000

B* 81.917.60.518.36.941.120.6

** Percentage includes all rentals; some subsidized housing includes those who pay no cash rent.
*** Data insufficient to make a reliable estimate.

C. Greenville County
  Total Population 287,913

Land Use

The nearest residences to the site are located approximately 0.5 mile to both the northwestandsoutheast. The vast majority of residences in the area are modest single-family homes, suggestingworking- to middle-class households.

A grammar school and a middle school are located just under 1-mile east of the site while ahighschool is located 1-mile to the west. A day-care center is located less than 1-mile east of the site. A hospital is located 1-mile to the northwest of the site. A small industrial park is locatedapproximately 1-mile west of the site. Several other small businesses and industries are alsolocatedwithin 1-mile. The Beaunit Corporation site, which is also listed on the EPA's NPL, isapproximately 1.5-miles southeast of PCS.

Natural Resource Use

While there are no large-scale agricultural activities in the immediate area, a few smallfarms withcrops and livestock are located within 1-mile of PCS. Project staff noted small gardens in someresidences. Several farm ponds were observed in the PCS area.

Groundwater is the primary source for drinking water in the area. While private wells are inthearea of the site, the number and location has not been determined.

D. Health Outcome Data

The State of South Carolina does not have a database or registry to document healtheffects in thevicinity of the site. Therefore, health outcome data cannot be evaluated for this site.


In 1985, after PCS reported their waste dumping to SCDHEC and the EPA, the citizens ofonenearby subdivision formed a group known as "the Powderhorn Homeowners Association". For aperiod of approximately one year (1985-1986), the association expressed health concerns as aresultof the disclosure by PCS; residents wrote letters of complaint about facility odors to US SenatorStrom Thurmond, US Congressman Carroll Campbell, and to the EPA Region IV office, Atlanta. The EPA did not recommend any action beyond the ongoing cleanup and did not feel that theodorsconstituted any violation (letter from the EPA Region IV dated Nov.29, 1985). There are norecentreports of planned community action; odor complaints have markedly dwindled following theinstallation of scrubber systems (an apparatus that removes impurities from air emissions) by PCS.

The Para-Chem Southern Public Health Assessment (PHA) was available for review andpubliccomment from August 16, 1991 to September 16, 1991. Copies of the PHA were available forcomment/interested parties at the Appalachia II Health District office, the Greenville CountyPublicLibrary, Simpsonville City Hall, and the Division of Health Hazard Evaluation at SCDHEC inColumbia. Additionally, news releases were sent to all weekly and daily newspapers in the state,all television networks in the state, the Associated Press, and the South Carolina Radio Network. This comment period was intended to give the public and/or interested parties an opportunity tovoice additional concerns or make comments pertaining to the Para-Chem Southern PHA. Nocomments were received.

Next Section          Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #