Current Site Information
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)Pennsylvania
EPA ID# PAD980508865
3rd Congressional District
Last Update: June 2004
Presque Isle Gas Well
Current Site StatusThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) have determined that the Presque Isle site currently poses no threat to the public or the environment and the site has been deleted from the National Priorities List of most hazardous waste site. The five-year review for the site was completed on March 3, 1993 which determined that the site remains protective of human health and the environment. No further five-year reviews will be completed for this Site.
Site DescriptionThe Presque Isle site is located on the Presque Isle State Park peninsula in Erie County, Pennsylvania. In the early 1970s, the Erie County Health Department noted a seep near Beach No. 7 that was discharging a noxious hydrogen sulfide-bearing black liquid. The discharge released hydrogen sulfide into the air and a black fluid containing hazardous substances into the soil and shallow groundwater. This discharge continued until the early 1980s. The source of the discharge was found to be an unplugged natural gas well that had been dug in 1910 and was abandoned in 1920. The well intercepts a geologic formation known as the Bass Island Formation. It is unclear whether the fluid discharging from the Bass Island Formation is a natural brine or is related to the deep well injection of wastes by the Hammermill Paper Company, located near the State Park. Eleven residential wells in the area were sampled in 1982 and were found to be uncontaminated. Presque Isle is a public recreational area used for picnicking, swimming, and fishing. The park contains an ecological reservation and is a natural habitat for deer, squirrels, waterfowl, and many plant-eating species. The annual average number of visitors to Presque Isle State Park is 4 million.
Site ResponsibilityThis site was addressed through federal and state actions.
NPL Listing HistoryThis site was proposed to the National Priorities List of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, requiring long term remedial action on December 30, 1982. The site was formally added to the list on September 8, 1983, making it eligible for federal cleanup funds. The site was deleted from the NPL on December 13, 1989.
Threats and ContaminantsThe groundwater and soils contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and inorganic compounds. People and animals visiting the area around the well could have been exposed to contaminated soil and surface water. The well stem is fenced and there are no physical hazards associated with the site. Exposure to swimmers and municipal water users was unlikely, because any contaminants would be diluted in the large volumes of water in Lake Erie.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
There are no physical hazards associated with the site. In 1982, the well was plugged by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) with cement down to 900 feet, sealing the Bass Island formation. The site was placed on the NPL in 1983 because of the possibility for releases from other improperly plugged oil and gas wells in the surrounding area. An inspection in 1987 detected no odors nor any evidence of discolored sand or of stressed vegetation. No discharge has been observed since 1982. Investigations by the EPA and PADEP found no contamination in the air, surface water, groundwater, or soil. EPA and PADEP determined that the release poses no significant threat to public health or the environment and that any threat to the public was eliminated when the well was plugged in 1982. The site was deleted from the NPL on February 13, 1988.
The five-year review for the site was completed on March 3, 1993. The site remains protective of human health and the environment. No further five-year reviews will be conducted for the site.