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Ohio River Park

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Alleghany County
western end of Neville Island

EPA ID# PAD980508816

14th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names


Current Site Status

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that construction is complete at the Ohio River Park Site. Neville Land Company, the Potentially Responsible Party (PRP), has installed a multilayer cap over an 11-acre area where hazardous waste was disposed, and covered the rest of the site with a soil cap. On top of the cap, Neville Land Company built a public recreation facility, which opened in November 1998. Work on the caps was completed, in September 1999. Roads, parking, a skating center, and an indoor golf driving range were opened to the public, in November of 1999. In the Fall of 2000, the PRP opened a miniature golf course to the public; re-vegetated the site; and started long-term groundwater sampling. In August 2002, the EPA and the PRP entered an Amended Consent Decree to monitor natural attenuation processes at the Site. Monitoring of natural attenuation started, in January 2004. After functioning for four years as a Sport Park, the Site was sold, in September 2003, to Robert Morris University. The University expanded the Sport Park and finished construction of two athletic fields on the Site, in Spring 2005. This work did not impact the remedy. The purchase did not change PRP's responsibility to monitor and maintain the Superfund Site. In 2007, based on historic sampling results, EPA modified the monitoring plan. Today, the site is home to a 5-acre building that houses two indoor ice skating rinks; an outdoor inline/ice rink facility; a golf range and training facility; a track with athletic field; a shot-put area; sports equipment shops; dining facilities; paved parking areas; and a miniature golf course.

The most recent Five-Year-Review report was issued by EPA on March 27, 2013. The Five-Year Review determined that because the remedial actions for all Operable Units are protective in the short-term, the Site’s remedy is protective of human health and the environment in the short-term. Although groundwater cleanup goals have not yet been achieved, natural attenuation is progressing at a reasonable rate, as anticipated. Institutional controls are in place, prohibiting drilling and use of groundwater at the Site.  In order for the remedy to be considered protective in the long-term, a cumulative risk assessment will be needed once groundwater cleanup goals are achieved.

Site Description

The 32-acre Ohio River Park Site, located on Neville Island, served as a municipal waste landfill for Neville Township from the 1930s until the mid-1950s. The Site was owned by Pittsburgh Coke & Iron Co. from the 1920s until 1970. Currently it is owned by Neville Land Co. In 1978, Allegheny County began developing the site as a park but stopped construction when industrial waste was discovered. The remedial action at the Site was accomplished by Neville Land Company.

Most of the waste disposal at the site took place from 1952 until 1965, when trenches were dug on the central part of the site to dispose of coking sludges (often containing benzene and toluene), cement production wastes, and pesticides. At the same time, plant demolition materials and slag were disposed at the end of the island. Currently, the entire area where chemicals were disposed is covered by a cap, and the areas where site contaminants might leach into the Ohio River are protected by a slurry wall. Groundwater beneath the cap is contaminated with benzene and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol. Soil beneath the cap is contaminated with benzo(a)pyrene and dibenz(a,h)anthracene. However, site monitoring data indicate that natural attenuation processes diminish concentrations of these chemicals. Ohio River, at the banks of the site (surface water), is contaminated with gamma-chlordane, manganese and mercury. There is no difference in concentration of these chemicals upstream and downstream of the site. Potential health threats are posed by ingestion and/or inhalation of contaminated groundwater, onsite soil, and fish. Seven municipal wells are 600 to 1,200 feet west-southwest of the site across the Back Channel of the Ohio River.  An estimated 1,273 people live on Neville Island.

Site Responsibility
This site is being addressed through Federal, State, and potentially responsible parties' (PRPs) actions.
NPL Listing History
This site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites requiring long-term remedial action on October 26, 1989. The site was formally added to the list on August 30, 1990, making it eligible for federal cleanup funds.

Threats and Contaminants

The entire site is covered with a soil cap, and the areas of concentrated waste are covered with a multilayer cap. Beneath the caps, on-site groundwater is contaminated with benzene and 2,4,6-trichlorophenol. Soil is contaminated with benzo(a)pyrene and dibenz(a,h)anthracene. Surface water is contaminated with gamma-chlordane, manganese, and mercury.  Drinking water is supplied from the municipal wells located in Coraopolis. Currently, the potential for people visiting the site to be exposed to site-related contaminants is limited to consumption of contaminated fish. To prevent people eating contaminated fish from the river, there are signs along the Ohio River and the Back Channel warning against fishing along the banks of Neville Island. If people use or disturb contaminated media at the site (such as groundwater or soil) or eat locally-caught fish, they may incur increased health risks.  The 2013 Five-Year Review found that the remedy is functioning as intended and is protective of human health and the environment in the short-term because exposure pathways that could result in unacceptable risks are being controlled.

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

Cleanup Progress

EPA's involvement in a field investigation began in 1991. This work was interrupted when the Township requested that EPA determine if a portion of the site could be used for the reconstruction of the Coraopolis Bridge before the entire site could be cleaned up. EPA agreed that the bridge was extremely important to the population of Neville Island, and based on already existing data which showed no soil contamination at the bridge portion of the site, EPA issued a No-Action Record of Decision (ROD) on March 31, 1993, for a one-acre area adjacent to the bridge.

The Remedial Investigation (RI) report for the entire site was completed in June 1994. The Feasibility Study (FS) report, which recommended alternatives for site cleanup, was completed in September 1996. Based on the results of the RI, EPA issued a ROD in September 1996, for buried waste and contaminated soil at the entire site. This ROD called for capping concentrated waste with a multilayer cap, covering the rest of the site with an erosion cap, installing a surface water control system, applying deed restrictions, and conducting long-term monitoring. On August 14, 1997, Wilmington Securities, Inc., and Neville Land Company signed a Consent Decree and agreed to perform the Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) specified in the ROD.

During the process of developing the ROD for soils and buried waste, the PRPs requested that EPA postpone its decision regarding the remediation of groundwater for this site until they completed a natural attenuation study. The PRPs volunteered to perform a study to demonstrate that natural attenuation of contaminated groundwater at the site would reduce contamination to levels protective of human health and the environment. EPA reviewed the results of the natural attenuation study before making a final decision on groundwater remediation. Study results were submitted to EPA in August 1997. In October 1997, the PRPs met with the public to announce their plans for an on-site sports complex to be developed on the site. They submitted a Remedial Design work plan for the complex to EPA, in September, and EPA approved it in November 1997.  At the same time, the Agency approved the Pre-final Design for the North-East Portion of the site which allowed the PRPs to start land clearing for construction of a portion of the sports complex at an area outside of the main area of contamination. Construction of the main facility started, in March 1998, when the final RD plan for the North-East area was approved by EPA.

On March 17, 1998, EPA announced that EPA's preferred alternative for the groundwater at the site was Monitored Natural Attenuation. In September 1998, EPA issued a ROD calling for Monitored Natural Attenuation for the groundwater. During the 1998 construction season, Neville Land Company installed a multilayer cap over an 11-acre area where hazardous waste was disposed, and covered the rest of the site with a soil cap. Construction was completed, in September 1999. In March 2003, EPA issued the first Five-Year Review Report for the Ohio River Site . Natural attenuation monitoring started, in January 2004, and is continuing. A statistical evaluation of the monitored natural attenuation data was performed during the 2013 Five-Year-Review. EPA determined that while groundwater cleanup goals have not yet been achieved, natural attenuation is progressing at a reasonable rate, as anticipated.


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