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Heleva Landfill

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Lehigh County
North Whitehall Township

EPA ID# PAD980537716

15th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names


Current Site Status

Site Description

The Heleva Landfill Site in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania consists of about 26 acres on a 93-acre parcel of land. In the late 1800s, the Site area was a large open-pit iron ore mining operation. The mining operations left four open, water-filled pits. Two of these pits are on site and both were covered over by a land filling operation. The Site began operations as a sanitary landfill in 1967 and accepted general mixed refuse, including paper, wood, and orchard wastes. Unconfirmed types and amounts of industrial wastes, including solvents, were reported to have been sent to the site beginning in that same year. Detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemical components of solvents and degreasers, in the West Ormrod Water Association Well, a quarter mile southeast of the Site, led to closing the well. The landfill was closed in 1981, and the owner covered the waste area with two feet of clay soil. Ground water discharges from the landfill flow into Coplay Creek, and Whitehall Quarry, both of which are used for recreational purposes. The area within a three-mile radius of the landfill is primarily rural, with the greatest portion being farmland and pastures. A large percentage of the population around the site live in small residential communities that pocket the area. Ormrod, a village of approximately 35 families, is located about a quarter mile southeast of the Site. Ironton, with a population of 150 residents, is a quarter mile to the west. An elementary school is located about 1,500 feet south of the Site. The ground water is contaminated with VOCs from former Site activities. On-site soils also are contaminated with VOCs. People who come into direct contact with or accidentally swallow contaminated ground water or soil may be at risk.
Site Responsibility
Cleanup of this Site is the responsibility of the federal government and parties potentially responsible for site contamination.
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 December 30, 1982 and formally added to the list September 8, 1983.

Threats and Contaminants

The ground water is contaminated with VOCs from former Site activities. On-site soils also are contaminated with VOCs. People who come into direct contact with or accidentally swallow contaminated ground water or soil may be at risk.

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

Cleanup Progress

Under several enforcement orders, the potentially responsible parties provided bottled water in 1985 to Ormrod homes with contaminated wells. In 1986, the North Hampton Water Company extended an existing water line to provide water for 35 homes that had been drawing water from the contaminated well. In 1989, three additional homes with contaminated wells were discovered. Extension of the water line to these homes was completed in early 1993.

In 1985, EPA selected remedies for groundwater contamination at the Site, which included installing a cover over the landfill, constructing a surface water diversion system, constructing an on-site treatment facility to treat the contaminated ground water before discharging it into Coplay Creek, extending the public water supply to residents whose groundwater supply wells have been or potentially could be contaminated, and monitoring the ground water. EPA also installed a gas venting system and has monitored landfill gases at the vents and at the landfill boundary. In 1991, the EPA modified the groundwater treatment portion of the cleanup remedy to include containing the source of contamination near the landfill while cleaning the aquifer downgradient. The potentially responsible parties completed construction of the ground water extraction and treatment system, and have been operating it since October 1999.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has completed construction of a cover for the landfill and gas venting system. The installation of this cover eliminates the threat from direct contact with contaminated on-site soils. In 1999, potentially responsible parties, designed, constructed, and began operating a pump and treat system to remove contaminants from the groundwater.

The most recent Five-Year Review of the Site was completed by EPA in September 2012. The purpose of the Five-Year Review was to determine if the remedy at the Site is protective of human health and the environment. The assessment of the Site by the Five-Year Review found that the remedy is protective in the short-term because all exposure pathways that could result in unacceptable risks are being controlled. Contaminated groundwater with Site-related VOCs in the underlying aquifer is being monitored, captured and treated at the Site. Modeling and long-term monitoring data demonstrate that the majority of the impacted groundwater in the underlying aquifer is also being captured and treated with the exception of two localized areas. The extent of the southeast portion of the downgradient plume area also is not well defined. Overall, since the beginning of the system startup in 1999, Site-related contaminant concentrations have significantly decreased. The neargradient groundwater plume is being contained and the downgradient groundwater plume concentrations have decreased over time. There is no information to suggest human or ecological receptors are being exposed to any impacted groundwater. Cursory review of the 2011-2012 Vapor Intrusion Investigation Report confirms that vapor intrusion (VI) is occurring at low levels in some residences. Indoor air risks for the residences are within EPA's acceptable risk range. Homes in the Village of Ormrod should continue to be monitored for VI. A shallow groundwater investigation should also be performed in the Village of Ormrod to provide multiple lines of evidence in the evaluation of VI.

For the groundwater and landfill cap remedial actions to be protective in the long-term, the following actions need to be taken: potential gaps in the underlying groundwater capture must be evaluated and addressed; extent of the southeast edge of the downgradient (non-DNAPL) groundwater plume must be addressed; effectiveness of extraction well EW-2 groundwater capture must be evaluated; institutional controls must be in place, evaluate the potential for 1,4-dioxane in groundwater, and pumping of Todd Lake must be continued to maintain adequate water level elevations to keep water below the toe of the landfill. An electronic version of the Five-Year Report is available.


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