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Berks Landfill

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Berks County
Sinking Springs

EPA ID# PAD000651810

6th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names

Berks County Landfill

Current Site Status

EPA prepared a final close-out report (FCOR) in March 2008 that documents the cleanup was fully implemented and the cleanup objectives have been met. EPA recommended removing the site from the National Priorities List (NPL) in the fall of 2008. The Berks Landfill site was removed or deleted from the National Priorities List in November 2008.

EPA continues to oversee the operation and maintenance at the site. EPA performed a five-year review of the site remedy in August 2010, with no serious issues identified. EPA continues regular inspection of the landfills and site property in conjunction with state (PADEP) personnel.  EPA is currently in the process of preparing a five-year review of the site remedy that is scheduled to be complete in July 2015. 

Site Description

The Berks Landfill Superfund Site is located in Spring Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania. It is approximately seven miles southwest of the City of Reading. The site consists of two closed landfills: the 49-acre eastern landfill and the 19-acre western landfill.

The property historically was used as an iron ore mine. Later from the 1950s to the 1980s, the Berks Landfill operated as a municipal landfill. In 1975, the landfill was granted a permit by the state to discharge leachate from its collection system into an adjacent stream. Also, in 1975, the eastern landfill was granted a solid waste permit to accept municipal refuse and demolition refuse. In 1986 landfill operations ended and the landfills were closed with a soil cap. A perimeter fence was erected around the eastern landfill, the existing cap was repaired, and a pumping station was constructed to convey the leachate to the local wastewater treatment plant.

Site Responsibility
Cleanup of this site is the responsibility of federal and state governments and parties potentially responsible for site contamination.
NPL Listing History
This site was proposed to the National Priorities List (NPL) on June 24, 1988 and formally added to the NPL October 4, 1989.

Threats and Contaminants

Sampling of on-site monitoring wells in the 1980s revealed that the groundwater was contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and metals. VOCs include vinyl chloride, trichloroethene, and cis-1,2-dichloroethene and metals include aluminum, iron, and manganese. The groundwater on-site can pose a threat to human health if consumed.

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

Cleanup Progress

In July 1997, EPA selected a remedy that included: repair of the eastern landfill cap; repair and continued operation of the existing leachate collection system; performance of long-term sampling and monitoring of: the sentinel well, several residential wells, the on-site monitoring wells, landfill gas; and the creek and to implement institutional controls to prevent future consumption of on-site groundwater and to restrict development and other activities on-site.

EPA gave the potentially responsible parties (PRPs) the opportunity to provide good faith offers to perform the cleanup work. None were received so EPA ordered them to perform the work. In accordance with the order, a subgroup of the PRPs developed a remedial design that outlined how the landfill cap and leachate collection system would be repaired. EPA conditionally approved this final design on September 30, 1999. Following approval of the design, EPA approved a plan for implementing the design on January 13, 2000. The PRPs selected a construction firm to build the remedy in March 2000.

Construction Activities:

The PRPs submitted a plan detailing the management of construction and EPA approved the plan in May 2000. Construction started in June 2000 and continued until November 2000 with regular oversight from EPA. During the construction the eastern landfill was cleared of vegetation, covered by soil, and seeded and on the western landfill 7,000 feet of inspection trails were laid. The leachate collection lines and manholes were cleaned, inspected, and repaired and the three leachate collection ponds were re-shaped and re-lined for an approximate volume of 1.5 million gallons. The collected leachate is pumped to the local wastewater treatment plant. To monitor the site landfill gas and groundwater, gas monitoring probes and groundwater monitoring wells were installed.

After construction was completed, EPA conducted two inspections: one in October 31, 2000 and a second on November 14, 2000. On December 22, 2000 EPA documented in a Preliminary Close-Out Report (PCOR) that the remedy was satisfactorily constructed.

Long-term monitoring of the site will continue to evaluate on-site groundwater wells and gas probes, residential wells, and the sentinel well. EPA prepared a final close-out report of the clean-up activities in March 2008 that documents the cleanup objectives have been met. The site was removed from the National Priorities List in late 2008.

Five-Year Review:

EPA completed a five-year review of the Berks Landfill Superfund Site in August 2010. As part of the five-year review, EPA, along with the PA Department of Environmental Protection, inspected the landfills and reviewed the monitoring data. It was determined that the remedy currently protects human health and the environment because on-site and residential groundwater is being monitored; the leachate is adequately collected and discharged to the wastewater treatment plant; the eastern landfill cap was repaired; there is regular monitoring and maintenance of the site; and institutional controls have been implemented for the property. The next five-year review will be completed in 2015.

Site Deletion:

EPA prepared a final close-out report (FCOR) in March 2008 that documented the cleanup was fully implemented and the cleanup objectives have been met. EPA recommended removing the site from the National Priorties List (NPL) in the fall of 2008 and received no comment. The Berks Landfill site was removed or deleted from the National Priorties List in November 2008.


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