Information Update for the Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania
Under oversight by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), contractors for the Tonolli Site Steering Committee (TSSC), have been working hard to cleanup the former lead acid battery recycling and secondary lead smelting facility.
The TSSC is composed of a group of companies that are potentially responsible parties (PRPs) at the Tonolli Corporation Site (Site). Over fifty (50) of these companies have signed a Consent Decree with EPA and DEP to complete the Site cleanup.
The TSSC hired Advanced GeoServices Corporation (AGC) to investigate and design the cleanup for the Site. MACTEC, Inc of Atlanta, Georgia was hired to implement the Site cleanup plans. AGC has been retained by the TSSC as the resident engineer on the project to oversee the construction. MACTEC is also working under oversight by the EPA and EPA's contractor, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The last several loads of a dross sludge material and nickel/cadmium batteries were removed from the Site for offsite recycling in early September. This waste which is high in lead content was taken for offsite recycling at the Exide/General Battery Corporation in Reading, PA. Other batteries and pieces of lead dug up during the remedial action will also be collected and taken to Exide.
The main tasks required for the cleanup of the Site and their status are listed below
Pumping and treatment of water currently ponded in the onsite landfill.
All ponded water has been removed from the landfill. Wells in the landfill continue to be pumped to remove water below the surface. This leachate is treated in a system designed to remove lead and other metals and the clean water is then discharged to the Nesquehoning Creek. Storm water, from rain falling on the Site, that is collected in sumps is also being captured and treated in a separate system. To date both systems have treated over 5 million gallons of water. Sampling indicates the discharged water is below the limits set for lead and other metals.
Stabilizing and expanding the side slopes of the landfill.
The eastern and southern landfill side slopes have been stabilized and expanded. Work continues on the northern and western side slopes. A portion of the southern side of the landfill has been reinforced by construction of a wall. The wall was made by placing rock in baskets formed of a heavy galvanized metal wire coated in plastic. These rock filled gabion basket were then stacked to make the retaining wall. Other areas were expanded by spreading and compacting structural soil fill.
Construction of a ground water treatment trench along the southern site boundary.
Construction of the ground water trench was completed on July 16, 1998. Progress was slowed due to large rock boulders encountered along the path of the trench and lead contaminated soil found in close proximity to the railroad spur. A section of track was removed and the soil was excavated. Delays in finishing the ground water trench in turn delayed completion of the gabion basket wall.
Decontamination and demolition of Site buildings and tank.
All buildings and tanks scheduled for demolition have been decontaminated and torn down. The TSSC is also removing concrete walls and floors in order to access, inspect, test and remove lead contaminated soil. Concrete is being taken to the onsite landfill for disposal. Removal of all the concrete was not included in the original plans but became necessary to access all contaminated soils. Batteries and large pieces of lead have been found under concrete in some areas. An additional area of oil contaminated soil was also recently found.
Excavation of all lead contaminated soil (soil with more than 1,000 mg/kg of lead onsite and more than 500 mg/kg offsite).
Excavation of soil is underway in several areas. Due to the large increase in volume of soil requiring excavation and also the larger volume of soil requiring treatment, progress has not proceeded according to the original schedule. To date greater than 50,500 cubic yards of soil have been excavated versus the original estimate of 30,500 cubic yards.
However, soil excavation and removal in certain areas, including the former garage and the residential property soil removal have been completed and filled with clean fill and/or soil.
Treatment by stabilization of excavated soil (soil with more than 10,000 mg/kg of lead).
Excavation of soil with greater than 10,000 mg/kg of lead should be completed at time of this fact sheet. The original estimate of the volume of this soil was 7,300 cubic yards. To date, almost three times this volume or 21,000 cubic yards has been treated. Treatment of soil should be completed in September.
Placement of soil, sediment and debris in the onsite landfill.
Soil placement in the landfill commenced on early May and continues to date. Soil under 10,000 mg/kg is taken directly to the landfill while soil with greater than 10,000 mg/kg is placed in a stockpile, treated and then hauled to the onsite landfill.
Removal of lead contaminated sediments from Nesquehoning Creek (sediment with more than 300 mg/kg of lead).
This activity is currently scheduled to occur following all other Site excavations.
Construction of a multi-layered cap and closure of the onsite landfill.
In order to provide more space in the landfill, the resident engineer recently revised the design of the landfill cap. The re-design was reviewed by the EPA, PADEP and USACE. The re-design provides for a capacity of up to 90,500 cubic yards versus the original design which provided for 60,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
The cap will be constructed following placement of all soil and debris in the landfill. A revised schedule was submitted by the TSSC on August 13, 1998. This schedule shows the cap being completed in late November. Construction of the cap and other Site work is dependent on favorable weather. If the excavation of soil continues into October the schedule will slip and construction of the cap may have to be completed in the spring. Contingency plans are being made to shut down certain or all operations if the schedule slips and severe winter weather starts.
Site backfilling, restoration and vegetation.
These items are scheduled to start at the end of the project. Final seeding and establishment of vegetation will likely have to be done in the spring/summer of 1999.
The project has been a challenge for all involved with activities including demolition of large structures containing dust with high concentrations of lead, removal of oil tanks and oil contaminated soil, and asbestos and transformer removal and disposal. Soil excavations had to proceed under railroad tracks and building foundations and required their ultimate removal. Thousands of cubic yards of waste coal culm bank material was also moved to access contaminated soil and allow construction of the landfill.
Initial air monitoring indicated a high concentration of lead in the dust at the Site, particularly during the building demolition. Since that work was completed, concentrations of lead in the air have dropped. The drop is also the result of greater emphasis on dust suppression methods and modified Site procedures.
From 1972 until 1986 Tonolli Corporation operated a lead acid battery recycling and secondary lead reclamation facility at the Site.
In 1989 a group of PRPs commenced a remedial investigation and feasibility study to assess the contamination at and evaluate cleanup option for the Site. Also in 1989, EPA implemented a removal action to address a waste water lagoon and 500,000 gallon storage tank at the Site. EPA constructed a wastewater treatment plant to treat water in the lagoon and tank. Filter materials in this system were replaced at the start of the remedial action and the system is currently treating storm water collected at the Site.
EPA issued a Record of Decision which selected a remedy for the Site in 1993. In 1994 and 1995 EPA worked to resolve issues which arose during the public comment period for a Consent Decree with the PRPs.
In 1996, a contractor for the TSSC commenced the Remedial Design for the cleanup of the Site and plans for the removal of battery casing from the Site. EPA approved the Final Design for the cleanup on February 20, 1998.
Similar to a mini reference library, an Information Repository contains technical and legal information about the Site. Any document EPA uses in making a decision about the Site and its cleanup will be in this public file.
Copies of the approved design and the construction work plans will be periodically placed in the Information Repository. EPA will continue to place copies of documents related to the site in the Information Repository for public review and comment.
The Information Repository for this site is located at:
Nesquehoning Borough Building
114 W. Catawissa Street
Nesquehoning, PA 18240
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This information is also available for review at the EPA office in Philadelphia at the address below. You can arrange an appointment to review this information by contacting Anna Butch at (215) 814-3157.
The EPA Project Manager has scheduled a briefing for local citizens and officials for Tuesday September 29, 1998 at 7:00 PM at the Nesquehoning Borough Recreation Center.
For More Information on the Tonolli Site, Please Contact These EPA representatives:
Remedial Project Manager
USEPA, Region III
1650 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
Community Involvement Coordinator
USEPA Region III
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029