The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region III Office of Public Affairs prepared this fact sheet to inform interested citizens and local officials of the status of EPA's activities at the Elizabethtown Landfill Superfund Site. This fact sheet provides a brief history of the site, an explanation of site activities and of the overall Superfund process, and EPA contact information.
The Elizabethtown Landfill Superfund site covers 15 acres of land in an agricultural and rural residential area of West Donegal Township approximately one mile southwest of Elizabethtown. Between 1958 and 1973, the site operated as an unlined landfill accepting industrial, municipal, and domestic wastes. During that time, Mr. Raymond Shank, Mr. Jan Meyers, United Disposal Inc., and the Macke Company owned the site. In 1973, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ordered the landfill to cease operations. Presently, the landfill is inactive.
In 1976, SCA Services, Inc. (SCA) purchased the inactive landfill. Waste Management, Inc. acquired SCA Services in 1984. Currently, a subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc., Waste Management of Pennsylvania-Elizabethtown, Inc., operates a maintenance and service garage for garbage trucks on a portion of the property.
In 1985, EPA conducted an inspection of the landfill and collected samples of ground water, surface water, soil, sediment, and leachate. These samples revealed the presence of hazardous substances, such as chlorobenzene, benzene, toluene, phenol, and 1,1-dichloroethane. EPA also observed leachate seeping into Conoy Creek a water way used for recreation and located 800 feet from the site.
As a result of this inspection, SCA took measures to prevent future contamination. In 1986, SCA capped a portion of the landfill. SCA also built a sedimentation basin, implemented a drainage system to channel surface water run-off to the basin, installed vents to control the migration of methane gas, conducted hydrogeological studies, and constructed a system to collect leachate.
To address past and present contamination and to prevent future contamination, EPA placed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. The following year, SCA signed a consent order to perform a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study of the site.
REMEDIAL INVESTIGATION/FEASIBILITY STUDY AT THE ELIZABETHTOWN SITE
A Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) is a two-part study to determine the nature and extent of contamination present at the site and to identify and evaluate site clean-up options. At the Elizabethtown Site, SCA, as the potentially responsible party (PRP), hired Golder Associates, Inc. to conduct the RI/FS. EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (PADER) oversee this contractor's work.
During the RI, Golder Associates, Inc. collects data to characterize the existing conditions and to define the full nature and extent of the leachate contamination, the factors influencing the extent and rate of leachate migration, and the effectiveness of past clean-up actions.
Specifically, the RI involves:
- Installation of monitoring wells
- Sampling and analysis of monitoring and private wells
- Sampling and analysis of ground water, leachate,and soils
- Monitoring of air emissions
- Sampling and analysis of surface water and sediments
- Coring of bedrock layer.
Once the RI is complete, the next step is to prepare the FS. SCA and Golder Associates, Inc. will use existing site information and new site characteristic studies conducted during the early stages of the RI to develop possible site clean-up options.
EPA's evaluation of each alternative proposed in the FS will consider:
- Overall protection of human health and the environment
- Compliance with Federal or state public laws and regulations
- Long-term and short-term effectiveness
- Reduction of the toxicity, mobility, or volume of hazardous contaminants
- Capability to carry out the alternative
- Acceptance by the state and the community
- Cost effectiveness.
EPA will compare clean-up options to these evaluation criteria and will rank them according to each option's ability to meet the criteria.
In addition, EPA will conduct a Risk Assessment to examine the risk posed by the site to human health and the environment. EPA will assess the risks associated with the contamination at the site, the level of contamination found at the site, and the possible ways humans and the environment can come into contact with the contaminants.
- A layer of compacted clay or other material placed over a contaminated area to reduce or eliminate the amount of precipitation that seeps through the contaminated materials, thus reducing the movement of contaminants. Capping also prevents direct human contact with the contamination.
- Coring of Bedrock Layer
- The process of drilling into the bedrock to inspect the core from each drillhole. The results of this inspection are used to develop a geologic map of the site.
- Consent Order
- A legal agreement between an agency and potentially responsible parties designating investigative and clean-up activities.
- Hydrogeological Studies
- Examination of the properties, movement, and effects of water found on the earth's surface, in the soil and rocks below, and in the atmosphere.
- A liquid resulting when water trickles through waste materials and collects components of those wastes. Leaching may occur at landfills and result in hazardous substances entering soil, surface water, or ground water.
- Monitoring Well
- Special wells drilled at specific locations on or off site to sample ground water at selected depths, to determine the direction of ground water flow, and to identify the types and amounts of contaminants present.
- National Priorities List (NPL)
- EPA's list of priority hazardous waste sites eligible for Federal funds for clean-up efforts.
- Potentially Responsible Party (PRP)
- PRPs are individuals or companies, such as owners, operators, transporters, or generators of hazardous waste who have contributed to contamination at a Superfund site.
- Sedimentation Basin
- A pit constructed to hold surface water run-off and sediment. Sediment is the soil or mud found on the bottom and sides of creeks, rivers, and streams. Typically, sediment consists of sand, silt, clay, plant matter, and gravel.
PROGRESS TO DATE
Since August 11, 1992 when the RI/FS began, Golder Associates, Inc. has completed several tasks outlined in the Work Plan for the site's RI/FS. Specifically, they have installed monitoring wells, sampled monitoring and private wells, sampled ground water, leachate, soils, surface water, and sediments, and completed bedrock coring. Currently, a laboratory is analyzing the samples collected.
WHAT IS SUPERFUND?
In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund. Superfund is designed to address past hazardous waste disposal and handling practices that have resulted in proven or potential problems. This law provided the Federal government with authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health, welfare, or the environment. The law created a tax on chemical and petroleum industries. The money collected from this tax is placed in a Trust Fund and used for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
EPA or the state can take primary responsibility for managing activities under Superfund. In either case, the other party must be involved in all phases of the process. PADER is the agency supporting EPA in cleaning up this site.
The Superfund program is based on the principle that "the polluter pays." EPA makes every effort to encourage those responsible for creating the problem to conduct or to pay for the cleanup by negotiating with PRPs.
If PRPs cannot be found or are unwilling to clean up the site, EPA uses Trust Fund monies for the cleanup. However, EPA can use its enforcement authority to recover those costs and replenish the Trust Fund, whenever possible.
Site Discovery is the first step in the Superfund process. State or local emergency services or concerned citizens alert EPA to possible problem sites. EPA conducts a preliminary assessment and site inspection to determine whether an emergency situation exists. If an emergency exists, EPA acts as quickly as possible to remove the threat and stabilize the situation. After addressing any immediate threats, EPA decides if further clean-up efforts are necessary. EPA scores the site through the Hazard Ranking system by evaluating the potential risk to human health and/or the environment using data gathered during site discovery. If a site scores higher than 28.5, it is added to the National Priorities List (NPL).
EPA or the state conduct or oversee PRPs who perform a Remedial Investigation, Risk Assessment, and Feasibility Study. The Remedial Investigation identifies the types of contaminants present, determines the extent of contamination at or near the site, and studies the geology and hydrogeology of the site. A Risk Assessment determines the nature and extent of the threat to public health or the environment. The Feasibility Study uses the information obtained from the Remedial Investigation and Risk Assessment to develop and evaluate options for site cleanup.
EPA then prepares a Proposed Remedial Action Plan which summarizes the results of the Remedial Investigation and Risk Assessment and describes the options included in the Feasibility Study. Upon completion of the RI/FS and evaluation of each option, EPA opens a 30-day public comment period to receive input from the public about the RI/FS and the proposed plan. During the comment period, EPA holds a public meeting to present the Proposed Plan, to provide information about the site, and to hear the community's comments regarding site decisions.
After reviewing all comments, EPA, in coordination with PADER, will select the clean-up method for the site based on the options presented in the Feasibility Study. EPA describes the selected method in the Record of Decision. Once EPA issues the signed Record of Decision, the next phase of the Superfund process begins.
EPA, the state, or the PRPs, with oversight from EPA, designs and implements the clean-up activities detailed in the Record of Decision during the Remedial Design/Remedial Action phase. EPA, the state, or the PRPs conducts long- term Operation and Maintenance to ensure that the selected Remedial Action is achieving EPA's goal of protecting public health and welfare and the environment. Eventually, when the site is cleaned up, EPA deletes it from the National Priorities List.
RECEIVING MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SITE
EPA has established an information repository for public review of documents related to the Elizabethtown Landfill site. The location of the information repository is:
West Donegal Township Building
7 West Ridge Road
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania 17022
Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 4:00 pm
Technical Assistance Grant
EPA has developed a program, called the Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) Program, to help citizens interpret and understand reports produced by EPA or potentially responsible parties. Under the Superfund Act, EPA is permitted to award one TAG per Superfund site so that community groups can hire technical experts to interpret sampling results, reports, and other documents. The ideal time to apply for a TAG is before the RI report is available; the Elizabethtown Landfill site is in that stage now. Contact David Sternberg at EPA for more information on applying for a TAG.
Remedial Project Manager
Community Involvement Coordinator