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Metal Bank

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Pennsylvania
Philadelphia
next to the Delaware River

EPA ID# PAD046557096

13th Congressional District

Last Update: February 2014

Other Names


Cottman Avenue Site

Current Site Status

Construction of the cleanup was completed in March 2010. Since then maintenance and monitoring activities such as mowing and sampling the groundwater are being performed. In addition to the regular maintenance, EPA performed a comprehensive review of the cleanup to ensure that the cleanup remains fully protective of human health and the environment. This review, required by law, included an inspection and review of monitoring data. The results of the review were made available in the August 2013 Five-Year Review Report. The report concluded that the remedy is currently protective, but additional monitoring will be required to ensure future protectiveness.

The major parts of the cleanup included: excavation of soils contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and placement of a soil cap; installation of a sheet pile wall along the southwest corner of the property adjacent to the Delaware River; removal of an underground storage tank; excavation of sediments contaminated with PCBs; and capping of the sediments in the Delaware River. Construction took place between July 2008 and January 2010. EPA released a draft Explanation of Significant Differences (ESD) for Public comment on December 4. The purpose of the ESD was to add additional Institutional Controls to the Site to protect the Remedy. The comment period closed on January 4, and EPA is currently in the process of responding to the comments and finalizing the ESD.

Site Description

The Metal Bank Superfund Site, a ten acre property on the Delaware River, is a former scap metal and transformer salvage facility located at 7301 Milnor Street in an industrial area of northeastern Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Site is bordered by Cottman Avenue on the west; Milnor Street on the north; a recycling company and salvage yard on the east; and the Delaware River on the south. A stormwater outfall owned by the City of Philadelphia at the southern end of Cottman Avenue empties into a mudflat west of the Metal bank site. The Quaker City Yacht Club is located west of the mudflat.

The Metal Bank site include two areas: the southern area which consists of approximately six acres of open area that was used for scarp metal recovery; and the northern area which consists of one vacant steel building, a courtyard, and a parking area. A fence is maintained around the entire Site.

Site Responsibility

Cleanup of this site is the responsibility of federal and state governments, and parties potentially responsible for site contamination. This site is being addressed through federal and potentially responsible parties' actions.

NPL Listing History

Our country's most serious, uncontrolled, or abandoned hazardous waste sites can be cleaned using federal money. To be eligible for federal cleanup money, a site must be put on the National Priorities List (NPL). This site was proposed to the NPL on December 30, 1982, and formally added to the list on September 8, 1983.

Threats and Contaminants

PCBs had been detected in the soils, groundwater, and in sediments in the Delaware River. PCBs are used as insulation in electrical transformers and are probable human carcinogens. Oil contaminated with PCBs had moved into the Delaware River as a result of groundwater and tidal movements underneath the Site. PCB were detected in sediments along the shoreline immediately adjacent to the property line. Recreational fishermen may be at risk from eating contaminated fish. Future construction workers may be at risk from the PCBs in the oil beneath the Site. Fish and animals feeding on grounds next to the Site may also be affected.

Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.

Cleanup Progress

The Metal Bank of America, Inc. drained oil from used transformers to reclaim copper parts. Metal Bank's recycling operations released oil in various locations on the property with the majority of the contamination in the vicinity of an underground storage tank (UST) which was used to store the used transformer oil.

In the 1970's the U.S. Coast Guard documented releases of oil to the Delaware River and traced the oil slicks to the site. In the early 1980's, the owner of the property installed and operated an oil recovery system to remove the PCB-contaminated oil from the groundwater. The recovery system operated until early 1989.

In 1983, the Site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) for federal cleanup. In 1987, EPA identified potentially responsible parties (PRPs), all of which were utility companies. The PRPs formed a committee and signed an agreement with EPA in 1991 to investigate the Site. The PRPs conducted an investigation of the property and evaluated different cleanups. The site owners declined to join this group.

In 1995, EPA proposed a plan to clean-up the Site by removing contaminated soils and collecting PCB-contaminated oil to prevent its release into the Delaware River. EPA issued its Record of Decision (ROD) describing the clean-up in December 1997. In addition, EPA made changes to the ROD by issuing two Explanation of Significant Differences (ESDs) in September and December 2000.

In 1998, EPA issued an enforcement order to 13 PRPs (ten utility companies and the site owners) to design and construct the cleanup.

In September 2002 the utility group submitted a design report for the cleanup of the site. EPA approved the final design in January 2003, but the remedy in the design was not implemented due to litigation. A revised remedy was documented in a Consent Decree, which was entered by the Court on March 14, 2006. The revised remedial design was approved by EPA in February 2008.

Construction took place between July 2008 and January 2010. During construction there were numerous technical issues with implementing the approved design. Upon completion of the construction inspections were conducted in January and February of 2010.

The following components were constructed: excavation and backfill of specific areas in the courtyard and southern section; remove and dispose of the underground storage tank; install sheet pile wall; excavate sediments in Delaware River; install marine mattresses to cap sediments in the Delaware River; install a trench; install six monitoring wells; cover the southern area with geotextile and 24 inches of soil with a specific area covered with 48 inches of cover; and cover the courtyard area with geotextile and 12 inches of soil.

The Preliminary Close-out Report (PCOR) was signed on March 23, 2010, signaling the construction completion at the Metal Bank Site. A construction completion site is a Superfund Site where physical construction of all cleanup actions are complete. Presently, maintenance and monitoring activities are being performed to ensure long-term protectiveness of the Site.

Legal Actions

In May 1998, the court lifted the stay on an original lawsuit, and EPA amended its complaint against the site owners to add a claim to recover its response costs under CERCLA. The trial was phased as follows: Phase One would determine whether defendants were liable and whether response costs were incurred by the Government; Phase Two would determine whether the Government's response costs, if any, were reasonable and recoverable, as well as the scope of any further remedial action; and Phase Three would determine the liability, if any, of the third-party defendants.

On January 21, 2003, in an 84-page opinion in United States v. Union Corporation, et al., Civil Action No. 80-1589, U.S. District Judge James T. Giles ruled on Phase One of the trial that the former and current Site owners – Union Corporation, Metal Bank of America Inc., and former Metal Bank owners and officers Irving Schorsch and John Schorsch – are liable for EPA's costs related to the cleanup of the Site, located at 7301 Milnor Street in Philadelphia. The trial for Phase II was set for November 2004. The corporate defendants Union Corporation, Metal Bank of America, Inc., subsequently filed for bankruptcy in May 2003. EPA settled with the corporate defendants in the bankruptcy proceeding in November 2003. The November 2004 trial did not proceed as planned. Instead, the parties entered mediation in early 2004 and three consent decrees were entered and finalized on March 13, 2006. One of the Consent Decrees required a group of utility companies to implement the remedy at the Site. Under the term and conditions of that Consent Decree, a revised final design specified the details of the cleanup activities. This revised design was approved with comments on February 28, 2008.

Contacts

Site Contacts

Administrative Record Locations

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Superfund |EPA Home | EPA Superfund Homepage


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