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EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)
EPA ID# PAD980508667
11th Congressional District
Last Update: March 2014. No further updates until 2019 (Five-Year Review)
Current Site Status
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed the Lackawanna Refuse site from the National Priorities List, a roster of the nation's most hazardous waste sites, in September 1999. The EPA has worked with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to ensure institutional controls (ICs) are placed on the property to manage future use.
Under CERCLA, any Site that has contamination left in place , that prevents the unrestricted use of the Site is subject to Five-Year Reviews. The function of these reviews is to examine whether the remedy is remains protective of human health and the environment. A Five-Year Review is for of the Lackawanna Refuse Superfund site was conducted in 2014. It determined that the remedy continues to be protective of human health and the environment.
The Lackawanna Refuse site consists of 258 acres in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania and lies in an area previously used for deep mining and strip mining of coal. In 1973, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) issued a permit for the disposal of municipal and commercial refuse in three strip-mine cuts covering approximately 18 acres. Two of the strip-mine cuts contained commercial and municipal refuse, and the third contained approximately 15,000 buried drums. PADER authorized an addendum for the disposal of sludge in 1978, but suspended the solid waste disposal permit later that year, after discovering the unauthorized disposal of industrial and hazardous wastes. In 1980, the EPA excavated 200 drums and sampled 18 others. Leachate flows from the site into an intermittent stream, drainage ditches, and the nearby St. John's Creek, which flows into the Lackawanna River. The site is located in a rural area of Pennsylvania and is surrounded by residential, agricultural, and former strip-mining areas. Approximately 9,000 people live within a one-mile radius of the site. The nearest residences are along the site's eastern border. Local residents obtain drinking water from a public system that takes water from reservoirs several miles north of the site.
- Site Responsibility
This site is being addressed through federal and state 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. The site was deleted from the list on September 28, 1999.
Threats and Contaminants
On-site ground water was found to be contaminated with nitrate; heavy metals, including arsenic and cadmium; and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from disposal activities at the site. Off-site ground water was found to be contaminated with the pesticide dieldrin. Surface water on-site had boron, manganese, and methylene chloride contamination. Fish were found to have traces of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), VOCs, and dieldrin. Heavy metals, including lead and nickel, and VOCs were found in rabbits in the area. People who accidentally ingested or came into direct contact with contaminated water and sediments may have been put at increased risk. In addition, eating rabbits and fish with bio-accumulated levels of contaminants would pose a health risk.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
In 1983, the owners and operators of the site pleaded guilty to failing to notify the EPA that hazardous substances were disposed at the site. They paid a fine and agreed to use the proceeds from any sale of the land to help finance cleanup at the site. The following remedial actions were completed in accordance with EPA's Record of Decision (ROD): all drums and highly contaminated solid wastes were removed and approximately 40,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil were excavated and disposed off-site. A leachate collection system and a synthetic cover were installed in 1989. The final grading and seeding of the site was completed in 1990. Subsequent to the placement of the synthetic cover, EPA's sampling showed that the landfill was generating a negligible amount of leachate due to the effectiveness of the synthetic cover in reducing rainfall infiltration to the landfill. EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Difference (ESD) on September 28, 1993 documenting EPA's decision to eliminate the leachate treatment plant due to insufficient leachate flow. The site was removed from the NPL in 1999. Five Five-Year Reviews found that the remedy for the site remains protective of human health and the environment. The next Five-Year Review will occur in 2019.