Hazardous Waste Program

GETS Global Signaling LLC

EPA ID# MOD000298398

DNR Contact:        Jalal El-Jayyousi, PE, 573-751-3553 or 800-361-4827
EPA Contact:        Wray “Randy” Rohrman, 913-551-7543 or 800-223-0425
Facility Contact:    Tom Antonoff, 518-862-2720
Last Updated:        Sept. 30, 2009

Current Activities

GETS Global Signaling LLC is performing long-term monitoring and maintenance of a closed hazardous waste land disposal unit, including groundwater monitoring, and corrective action activities under two hazardous waste permits. The status of GETS’ post-closure and corrective action activities are described below. The public can review and copy paper copies of all permits, reports and supporting documents at the agency locations above.

Facility Description

The GETS Global Signaling LLC site is located on about 30 acres at 2712 S. Dillingham Road in Grain Valley, about 20 miles east of downtown Kansas City and 8 miles south of the Missouri River. In 1973, Harmon Electronics Inc. began operating an electronics assembly facility at the site. Harmon produced sophisticated electronic sensing and signaling equipment for the rail transportation industry throughout the country.

Over the years, Harmon expanded the facility in several areas. In 1978, Harmon built an addition to its production building, also referred to as the assembly building, and added a research and development building immediately to the west of the assembly building. Harmon also built a wastewater treatment plant west of the assembly building to treat domestic sewage from the plant and the rinse waters from the cleaning system for the automatic soldering machine. The wastewater treatment plant originally discharged to a ditch southeast of the plant, but was later connected to the City of Grain Valley’s treatment system in 2005. In 1986, in response to a directive from the local fire department, a fire protection pond was built approximately 500 feet west of the assembly building, on the natural drainage channel leading from the assembly building towards the bottom of the hill. Additions to the research and development building were also built in 1986 and 1995. In 1997, Harmon also added an addition to the assembly building.

Plant operations included printing circuit boards and inserting electronic components, such as transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors and inductive coils, onto the boards. The circuit boards were then cleaned with a small amount of organic solvents to remove the soldering flux from around the solder connections. Before 1988, assembly workers washed the circuit boards with a 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA) solvent. As the solvent became dirty, or “spent,” it was collected in small waste containers. From 1973 to 1986, Harmon maintenance employees collected the spent solvent approximately once every 1 to 3 weeks and dumped it on the ground behind to the assembly building. Harmon estimated 3375 gallons of solvents were disposed in this manner, with an estimated 10-15 percent evaporating. Between 1986 and December 1987, the spent TCA solvent was combined with other plant wastes and degreasing solvents; including Freon, methylene chloride, trichloroethene (TCE), toluene and xylene; in an open-topped drum on a concrete apron behind the assembly building to encourage evaporation.

In November 1987, facility management realized their spent TCA solvent was an EPA-listed hazardous waste (F001) and became concerned that the disposal practice did not follow existing environmental laws. Harmon retained legal counsel and technical consultants to determine if environmental contamination had occurred. Management determined the former disposal practices were not acceptable. Harmon built a 20 x 20-foot concrete pad with a wooden fence southwest of the assembly building to store the used solvents for less than 90 days before disposing the waste off-site. Harmon also changed their assembly procedures to use a Loncoterge solution, a nonhazardous cleaning solution, at the plant. As a result, Harmon stopped producing hazardous waste at the site.

In August 2000, General Electric Transportation Systems (GETS), a division of General Electric, acquired Harmon Industries and changed the name of the facility to General Electric Harris Harmon Railway Technologies. Harmon retained its assets and continued operations while GETS proceeded to negotiate with Harris Corp. to transfer the business to a new GE business venture with Harrison Corp. In October 2001, GETS elected not to finalized the transfer to a new business and instead transferred the assets to an existing business, GETS Global Signaling LLC. GETS continues to research, develop and assemble electronic sensing and signaling equipment for the rail transportation industry.

Post-Closure and Corrective Action Status

According to applicable state and federal hazardous waste laws and regulations, all hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities are required to investigate and clean up releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment at their facility resulting from present and past hazardous waste handling practices. In June 1988, Harmon notified the department of their former solvent disposal practices and presented information from an Environmental Assessment that International Technology Corp. (IT Corp.) had performed for the site, on behalf of Harmon. The assessment described the history of site operations and waste disposal practices and identified the general area of the contamination.

During May and June 1989, IT Corp. performed a follow-up Phase 2 subsurface site assessment, on behalf of Harmon. The investigation was to determine the nature and extent of contamination caused by the former disposal practices. Harmon submitted the Phase 2 Site Assessment Report to the department in September 1989. Sample results indicated that several volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, were present in soil between the assembly and research buildings and had affected shallow groundwater on-site, which was moving the contamination downhill towards the fire water pond. No detectable contamination was present in the discharge water from the pond.

In May 1990, the department notified Harmon that the waste disposal area would be classified as a hazardous waste land disposal unit. The department requested Harmon to submit a closure and post-closure plan for the land disposal unit. Harmon submitted the plans to the department in January 1991, with revisions dated June 1991 and February 1992. During this time, Harmon also demolished the former hazardous waste container storage area. The department approved Harmon’s closure plan for the land disposal unit in July 1992.

Beginning in late 1991, IT Corp. performed a Phase 3 field investigation, on behalf of Harmon, in response to the Phase 2 Assessment. The investigation was to define the horizontal and vertical extent of any contamination, or where the waste is located at the site. Harmon submitted the Phase 3 Site Investigation Report to the department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in July 1992. The sample results showed the soil between the assembly and research buildings contaminated with TCA, Freon-113, trichloroethylene (TCE), acetone, 1,1-dichloroethylene (DCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE). Groundwater contamination was also found on the east side of the assembly building and at the northeast corner of the research building. Based on these results, the investigation concluded that the land disposal unit and two newly identified areas of groundwater contamination required additional investigation and corrective action, or cleanup.

Harmon completed interim measures at the site in order to reduce or prevent unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. An interim measure is an action taken to control the contamination source or path the contamination could take from the source to humans, animals, or the environment, such as air, soil, water, and food. As an interim measure, the department allowed Harmon to test a soil-vapor extraction system, or SVE, to removed the VOCs from the soil. The SVE system used a vacuum pump and a series of shallow wells to remove air containing VOCs from the soil. As fresh air replaced the extracted soil air, additional VOCs volatized. The SVE pilot test was performed in September 1992 and results indicated that the system could be effective. The department approved the use of the SVE to close the hazardous waste land disposal unit. The full-scale SVE system was built in December 1992.

Also during 1992, Metcalf & Eddy Inc. performed a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA, Facility Assessment for the site, on behalf of EPA. The assessment was conducted to identify and gather information on actual and potential releases of hazardous waste and hazardous constituents to the environment from all areas at the facility. The September 1993 RCRA Facility Assessment Report did not identify any areas, other than the hazardous waste land disposal unit, requiring further investigation.

In March 1993, Harmon entered into a Consent Decree with the department, requiring Harmon to investigate and cleanup any contamination and work on good faith until a post-closure plan could be approved. Harmon installed an asphalt cap over the hazardous waste land disposal unit in May 1993 and began operating the SVE system full-time in December 1993. As required by the Consent Decree, Harmon set up a groundwater monitoring program to determine the amount of contamination and whether the contaminated groundwater was moving at the site, in addition to determining the effectiveness of the SVE system.

The department accepted Harmon’s closure report and certification for the former hazardous waste land disposal unit in June 1996; however, because hazardous waste remained in place after closure, the area is also required to go through a period of post-closure care. As part of the post-closure care, Harmon is required to perform long-term monitoring and maintenance of the closed land disposal unit.

The department, in coordination with EPA, incorporate the approved final remedy for the facility in Harmon’s hazardous waste permits, which were issued July 31, 1996. The final remedy for contaminated groundwater is monitored natural attenuation, which includes microorganisms and sunlight naturally breaking down the contaminant. In order to protect human health, a Deed Notice was filed with the Jackson County Recorder of Deeds and the Jackson County Public Works department on Sept. 12, 1996. The notice informs potential future buyers of the property that it had been used to manage hazardous waste, which has impacted some of the soil and groundwater. The contamination is limited to a small area on the facility property and is covered with a low permeability asphalt cap.

The department allowed GETS, successor-in-interest to Harmon, to suspend the operation of the SVE system in September 2001, when sampling results indicated the concentration of contaminants in soils were below previously approved site-specific risk levels. The SVE system is still in place and has remained idle since 2001. The department may require GETS to restart the SVE system if groundwater monitoring shows that contaminant concentrations are increasing above applicable levels. GETS currently samples the groundwater four times a year as part of their monitoring program. The former hazardous waste land disposal area is currently used as a parking lot.

Regulatory Status

GETS is subject to the permitting requirements of the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Law and federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments for post-closure care because hazardous waste remained in place after closure. GETS is also subject to corrective action because they completed closure after the effective date of the federal Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments.

GETS is conducting post-closure and corrective action activities under two hazardous waste permits, one issued by the department and one issued by EPA, both effective Sept. 30, 2009. The permits were first issued in July 1996. The department reissued the Missouri Hazardous Waste Management Facility Part I Permit. EPA reissued the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments Part II Permit. These permits require GETS to continue performing long-term monitoring and maintenance of the closed land disposal unit, including groundwater monitoring, to make sure the contaminated groundwater does not threaten human health or the environment. The regulated units under the current permits consist of the closed hazardous waste land disposal unit, the hillside leading west towards the fire water pond and an impacted area just east of the assembly building. These permits also require corrective action in the event there is a newly identified release of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents to the environment, or if the contaminated groundwater poses a threat due to further migration.