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Ohio River Park

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Alleghany County
western end of Neville Island

EPA ID# PAD980508816

14th Congressional District

Last Update: February 2014

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 the Island Sports Center, which, in November 1998, allowed school children to use two skating rinks for training. Work on the caps was completed in September 1999. Roads, parking, 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 the 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.

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, that 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 is needed once groundwater cleanup goals are achieved.

Site Description

A 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 of 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, 2,4.6-trichlorophenol and manganese. Soil beneath the cap is contaminated with benzo(a)pyrene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, and beryllium. 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 exists from ingesting contaminated groundwater, soil, and contaminated fish, and from inhalation of benzene during showering.

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 has been covered with a soil cap, and the areas of concentrated waste are covered with a multilayer cap. Drinking water historically has been supplied from the municipal wells located in Coraopolis. Currently, the potential exposure for people visiting the site has been limited to ingesting contaminated fish. To avoid it, there are warning signs along the Ohio River and the Back Channel warning against fishing along the banks of the Neville Island. Beneath the caps, on-site groundwater is contaminated with benzene, 2,4.6-trichlorophenol and manganese. Soil is contaminated with benzo(a)pyrene, dibenz(a,h)anthracene, and beryllium. Surface water is contaminated with gamma-chlordane, manganese, and mercury. Potential health threats exist from ingesting contaminated groundwater and/or soil from the beneath of the caps, and from ingesting contaminated fish, also from inhalation of benzene during showering. 2008 Five-Year Review report states that "the remedy ... is functioning as intended and is protective of human health and environment."

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 with the request from the Township to decide on a part of the site needed for the reconstruction of the Coraopolis Bridge prior to the entire site. EPA agreed with the importance of providing a convenient bridge to the population of Neville Island and based on the already existing data which showed no soil contamination at the bridge portion of the site, 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 March 1994. The Feasibility Study (FS) report, which recommended alternatives for site cleanup, was completed in June 1995. 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 of concentrated waste with a multilayer cap, covering the rest of the site with an erosion cap, installation of a surface water control system, deed restrictions, and 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 PRP requested that EPA postpone its decision regarding the remediation of groundwater for this site until they completed a natural attenuation study. The PRP volunteered to perform a study which would demonstrate that natural attenuation of contaminated groundwater at the site would reduce contamination to levels protective of human health and the environment. EPA agreed to consider and await the results of the natural attenuation study before making a final decision on a groundwater remediation. Results of this study were submitted to EPA in August 1997. On March 17, 1998, EPA announced during a public meeting that EPA's preferred alternative for the groundwater at the site is Monitored Natural Attenuation. In September 1998, EPA issued the ROD calling for Monitored Natural Attenuation for the groundwater. In October 1997, the PRP met with the public to announce their plans for an on-site sports complex to be developed on the site. They submitted a RD work plan 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, which allowed the PRP to start land clearing for construction of a portion of the sports complex at the area outside of the main contamination. The actual construction of the main facility started in March 1998 when the final RD plan for the North-East area was approved by EPA. 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. The 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’s assessment was that while groundwater cleanup goals have not yet been achieved, natural attenuation is progressing at a reasonable rate as anticipated.


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