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UGI Columbia Gas Plant

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Pennsylvania
Lancaster County
Columbia

EPA ID# PAD980539126

16th Congressional District

Last Update: February 2014

Other Names

None

Current Site Status

The U.S. EPA Record of Decision (ROD) and Preliminary Close-Out Report (PCOR) for the Site were both signed on September 24, 2007. The ROD's selected remedy is: No Further Action for site soils, long-term groundwater monitoring, operation and maintenance of caps constructed pursuant to the removal action, institutional controls (ICS) and a Technical Impracticability (TI) waiver for restoration of Dense Non-Aqueous Phase liquid (DNAPL) groundwater. The PCOR signifies the Site has achieved construction complete status. Columbia Borough and PPL are in discussions on the sale of the site property. Columbia Borough has expressed and interest to reuse the property for the Borough's vehicle parking, vehicle maintenance garage and for the storage of road salt. The removal action conducted by the PPL and UGI in 2007 included design and construction features in anticipation of this reuse.

On July 7, 2008, EPA sent Special Notice /Demand Letters to PPL and UGI inviting the parties to participate in formal negotiations with EPA in an effort to reach a settlement to conduct or finance the Remedial Design/ Remedial Action (RD/RA) at the Site. In September 2010, the parties entered into a settlement under a Consent Decree with the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for performance of the work.

The RD/RA work to be performed at the Site includes groundwater monitoring and the application of institutional controls. The RD groundwater monitoring plan was approved in June 2011 and the first round of sampling as part of the RA occurred in late August 2011. A second round of sampling was performed in August 2012. A third round is tentatively scheduled for March 2013. EPA is currently evaluating the groundwater data and assessing the alternate remedial strategy and appropriateness of the existing boundaries of the remedy's TI-Zone, and may seek to have the Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) at the Site submit a Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) examining remedy modifications to the existing remedy.

Site Description

UGI Columbia Gas Plant is a 1 ½ -acre site located in a light industrial/residential area 400 feet northeast of the Susquehanna River in southern Pennsylvania. From 1851 to 1949, Columbia Gas used the site for gas manufacturing. In 1932, ownership of the property was transferred to Pennsylvania Power and Light (PP&L) and subsequently transferred to Lancaster County Gas Company in 1949. Lancaster County Gas merged with UGI Corporation which owned the site until 1979. The property was used as a boat dealership from 1979 until 1994 when it was repurchased by PP&L. During the years of active gas manufacturing operations at the site, overflows from an on-site tar separator were directed to an open ditch that led to the Susquehanna River. Records show that local fishermen complained to the gas plant that their boats were being covered with tar. PADEP conducted preliminary investigations at the site in August 1984. In 1985, PP&L and UGI Corporation conducted further investigations to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the site. Tar was found in test pits dug in the gas and relief holders and in several soil borings on the site. Soil, sediment, sludge, tar, and groundwater samples collected during this investigation also revealed volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, and cyanide contamination. An area of Susquehanna River sediments directly downstream of the site was contaminated with tar-related contaminants such as PAHs. In 1987, it was determined that approximately 800 cubic yards of sediment in the Susquehanna River were contaminated with tar from the site. In January 1991, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted expanded investigations (EI) of the UGI Columbia Gas Plant. During that EI, EPA collected groundwater, soil, and surface water samples from the Susquehanna River and confirmed previously reported contamination of VOCs, PAHs, and cyanide.

Site Responsibility

Cleanup of this site is the responsibility of federal and state governments, 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 June 23, 1993 and formally added to the list May 31, 1994.

Threats and Contaminants

The main waste streams generated during the historic production of gas from coal at the site consist of coal tar and spent gas purifying materials. The primary sources of contamination at the site are coal tar and sludge in the gas holder and the relief holder, coal tar contaminated sediments in the Susquehanna River and coal tar in the sub-surface soil and bedrock. Groundwater flowing through the contaminated subsurface soil and bedrock has become contaminated with VOCs. Hazardous substances associated with the coal tar and purifier wastes include VOCs, PAHs, heavy metals, and cyanide. People or animals who touch or swallow contaminated materials 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

The site is being addressed in a single long-term remedial phase and two interim actions to address the former gas holders and the sediments in the Susquehanna River.

PADEP signed a Consent Order and Agreement with the PP&L on April 4, 1994. Under this Order, PP&L has conducted interim remedial actions on the former gas holder and the sediment in the
Susquehanna River and performed the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for the Site.

The final Remedial Investigation Report and a Risk Assessment Report for the site was approved by the EPA in 1998. The Site's Feasibility Study, as modified by a March 22, 2002 addendum, was approved by PADEP on May 7, 2002. This Feasibility Study calls for a waiver of ground water remediation due to technical impracticability. A document justifying the technical impracticability (TI) waiver was prepared by PP&L and has been reviewed by EPA.

In July 2003 at the request of EPA, PP&L initiated another study of river sediments and groundwater discharge in the vicinity of the Site to determine the location, if any, of contaminated groundwater discharging to the Susquehanna River. Results of the pore water and sediment sampling were available in Oct 2003, and have been incorporated into the site's TI demonstration waiver and pending cleanup action for the site. In February 2005, PP&L performed a final sediment sampling round on Shawnee Creek, a tributary to the Susquehanna River. The sampling results indicated the PAH concentrations found in sediments in Shawnee Creek is not Site related, instead it appears to originate upstream of the Site.

In May 2006, EPA issued Special Notice to PP&L for the submission of a Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) for groundwater remedial alternatives at the Site. The FFS, received in June 2006, further expands on the groundwater alternatives and was utilized for the Proposed Plan.

On November 2, 2006 EPA signed an Action Memorandum approving a removal response action for the excavation (as necessary) and proper disposal of contaminated soils, the installation of concrete and asphalt caps at the two (2) acre former gas plant property, and the installation of four (4) additional monitoring wells for the dissolved phase groundwater. The EPA estimated project ceiling is $1.99 million.

On November 29, 2006 the EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) Pennsylvania Power and Light (PPL) Corporation and UGI Utilities (UGI), for their performance of a removal response action at the Site. The PRPs submitted a Response Action Plan (RAP) and design drawings to EPA on December 15, 2006 for the performance of the removal action.

The removal action was completed on September 18, 2007. The pre-final construction walk-thru was conducted by EPA on September 19, 2007 and verified the construction was performed according to the approved design and specifications.

The U.S. EPA Record of Decision (ROD) and Preliminary Close-Out Report (PCOR) for the Site were both signed on September 24, 2007. The ROD's selected remedy is: No Further Action for site soils, long-term groundwater monitoring, operation and maintenance of caps constructed pursuant to the removal action, institutional controls (ICS) and a Technical Impracticability (TI) waiver for restoration of Dense non-Aqueous Phase liquid (DNAPL) groundwater. The PCOR signifies the Site has achieved construction complete status. Columbia Borough and PPL are in discussions on the sale of the site property. Columbia Borough has expressed and interest on reusing the property for the Borough's vehicle parking, vehicle maintenance garage and for the storage of road salt. The removal actions conducted by PRPs included design and construction features in anticipation of this reuse.

On July 7, 2008, EPA sent Special Notice /Demand Letters to PPL and UGI inviting the parties to participate in formal negotiations with EPA in an effort to reach a settlement to conduct or finance the Remedial Design/ Remedial Action (RD/RA) at the Site. In September 2010, the parties entered into a settlement under a Consent Decree with the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for performance of the work. The RD groundwater monitoring plan was approved in June 2011 and the first round of sampling as part of the RA occurred in late August 2011. A second round of sampling was performed in August 2012. A third groundwater sampling round occurred in March 2013, and a fourth one occurred in September 2013. EPA is currently evaluating the groundwater data and assessing the alternate remedial strategy and appropriateness of the existing boundaries of the remedy's TI-Zone. The Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) at the Site are working on Focused Feasibility Study (FFS) for modification to the existing groundwater remedy.

Contacts

Site Contacts

Administrative Record Locations

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