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Keystone Sanitation Landfill

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Adams County
Union Township

EPA ID# PAD054142781

19th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names


Current Site Status

On September 21, 2010 EPA issued the third Five-Year Review Report for the Keystone Sanitation Landfill Superfund Site (Site). The review found that the remedy had addressed the immediate threats and that there were no current exposures to Site-related contaminants. Therefore, the review found the remedy is protective of human health and the environment in the short-term and is expected to be fully protective when the cleanup goals are achieved. As required, a similar review must be conducted every five years.

In addition to addressing groundwater contaminated by volatile organic contaminants (VOCs), the Site remedy includes a source control component to ensure that the landfill is not a continued source of contamination to the groundwater. The main component of the source control remedy involves the operation of an enhanced landfill gas extraction system. The gas extraction system has been operating since May 2003. The system works by applying a vacuum to a series of gas wells to pull VOCs and methane to the surface as vapor or gas which is then treated in an enclosed flare at high temperatures to destroy contaminants. Monitoring of the gas extraction system is being conducted as required. From May 2003 through present, it is estimated that the system has removed more than 2,600 pounds of certain target VOCs from the landfill. The list of target VOCs was developed based on the groundwater contaminants of concern.

Although the gas extraction system has been effective in removing VOCs from the landfill, the overall flow rates have been significantly less than called for in the design. A review of the site data suggested the flow rates should be increased at the majority of the gas extraction wells. In January 2009, the responsible parties began making adjustments to the existing extraction system in an attempt to increase flow in individual gas extraction wells. EPA evaluated the results of these modifications and has determined that additional gas extraction wells, are required. In September 2009, the responsible parties submitted preliminary recommendations regarding the construction of new gas extraction wells, but recommended additional soil gas sampling be conducted to assist in the design and location of new wells. Additional soil gas sampling was conducted in January 2010. The system was amended through the installation of 14 additional landfill gas wells in November 2010.

The other major components of the site remedy include construction and operation of a groundwater extraction and treatment system; provision of residential filtration systems; monitoring of groundwater in both monitoring wells and residential supply wells; monitoring of surface water and sediment from nearby tributaries and seeps; upgrades to the landfill soil cover and storm water management controls; and institutional controls to protect the remedy and restrict the future use of the landfill property. All activities, including the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the various remedy components, are being conducted by the responsible parties under EPA's oversight.

The groundwater treatment system has been operating since August 2000. Groundwater is pumped from a series of extraction wells, treated and discharged to a nearby stream. Monitoring of the groundwater, the treatment system and residential wells is being conducted as required. Residential well filtration units were installed at 34 residences to address potential groundwater contamination that may be associated with the landfill. With the exception of the residential well located on the landfill property, groundwater monitoring results from sampling conducted from 2000 to present indicate that landfill contamination is not impacting residential wells. As a result, the residential maintenance and monitoring program was significantly reduced. As a precaution, filters remain in place at several residences located in close proximity to the landfill.

EPA will continue to evaluate the sampling data collected by the responsible parties and oversee the O&M of the systems. As discussed above, O&M may include upgrades to the extraction and treatment systems and installation of additional monitoring and/or extraction wells as necessary. In addition, EPA and the responsible parties will conduct regular site inspections to ensure that the groundwater and gas extraction systems continue to function as designed and to ensure that the upgrades to the landfill cover and storm water management system are properly maintained.

Site Description

The Keystone Sanitation Landfill site, located in Adams County, Pennsylvania, covers 40 acres on a former farm that accepted municipal and industrial wastes and construction debris from 1966 until 1990. The landfill site is situated on a ridge and run-off leaves the area in all directions. Tests show that the surrounding ground water has been contaminated. The population within a 3-mile radius of the site is approximately 2,300. An estimated 1,700 people draw drinking water from private wells or springs that tap the contaminated aquifer within three miles of the site. One residence is located on the site and others live approximately 200 yards from the boundary of the landfill.
Site Responsibility
The site is being addressed through federal, state 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. This site was proposed to the list on April 10, 1985 and formally added to the list July 22, 1987.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater on and adjacent to the site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and heavy metals including mercury, zinc, and manganese. Nearby surface water contains VOCs and nearby sediments exhibit elevated levels of mercury.

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

Cleanup Progress

In 1990, EPA selected the remedy for cleanup of the landfill, which includes extraction and treatment of on-site groundwater, installation of an impermeable cap and gas collection system, construction of a fence to limit access to the site, and monitoring of the ground water, surface water, and sediments. In 1991, EPA ordered a group of 12 potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to conduct design and construction of the on-site activities. EPA filed a legal action in September 1993 to recover approximately $1.4 million in past costs. The court recently entered a settlement with the 12 PRPs that provides for the implementation of the groundwater remedy at the site. In addition, the court also entered cash out settlements which removed almost 600 third and fourth party defendants who had also sent waste to the landfill. These settlements also provided funds which may help in completion of the cleanup of the site. Litigation is presently stayed pending court-ordered settlement negotiations with the owners/operators. The construction of the fence surrounding the site was completed in July 1994. The design of the remaining activities was completed in the fall of 1997.

A comprehensive investigation of off-site contamination was released for public review and comment in December 1997 and a Focused Feasibility Study describing the proposed cleanup alternative was released in January 1998. EPA released the Proposed Plan for the Amended Record of Decision in July 1998. The Proposed Plan remedy included, among other things, the provision of whole-house treatment units to residents in close proximity of the Site, groundwater monitoring and off-site extraction of groundwater. The comment period closed in August 1998. Extensive comments on the Proposed Plan were received. EPA issued the Amended Record of Decision on June 25, 1999.

On September 14, 2000, EPA issued an Amendment to the 1990 Record of Decision (ROD) which changed the cleanup plan for the site. The new cleanup plan, referred to as the Alternate Source Control Remedy, involved using a gas extraction system to remove and destroy volatile organic contaminants and methane from the landfill. In addition, the plan included upgrading the existing landfill soil cover and storm water management controls. In the 1990 ROD described above, EPA decided to install a landfill cap to keep these contaminants from entering the underground water. The new approach will remove contamination, instead of merely containing it, and may speed up the groundwater cleanup by reducing the source of the pollution.

In April 2001, the court entered a settlement with the owner/operators of the landfill. The settling parties are Waste Management Inc., the Keystone Sanitation Company, and Anna and Kenneth Noel. Per the terms of the settlement, the parties agreed to: perform the Alternate Source Control Remedy selected by EPA; waive any claims they may have against parties who sent only small amounts of trash or hazardous substances to the landfill; and pay a penalty to EPA of $250,000.00 for failing to comply with a 1996 order to participate in the cleanup of the landfill.

In 2015, EPA will conduct the fourth Five-Year Review of the site remedy to determine if the remedy is working as anticipated and to ensure it remains protective of human health and the environment.


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