Jump to main content.

Brodhead Creek

Current Site Information

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Monroe County

EPA ID# PAD980691760

11th Congressional District

Last Update: February 2014

Other Names

Union Gas

Current Site Status

EPA is currently conducting the fourth Five Year Review of the Site. This report should be completed by April 2014 and will be available for review soon after. The PRP continues to analyze ground water at the Site and monitor the northward migration of McMichael Creek to prevent any coal tar releases into Brodhead Creek.

Site Description

The Brodhead Creek site covers 12 acres and is the location of a former coal gasification plant which operated along the west bank of Brodhead Creek in the Borough of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, from approximately 1888 to 1944. A waste product from these operations was coal tar, a black tar-like liquid which had a density greater than water and was principally composed of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This coal tar was placed in an open pit located on the property. This practice continued until the plant was abandoned in 1944.

Site Responsibility

This site is being addressed through federal, state, and potentially responsible parties' actions.

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 on September 8, 1983.

Threats and Contaminants

Groundwater on site is contaminated with PAHs, and toxic organic chemicals associated with coal tar. On-site subsurface soil is contaminated with PAHs, arsenic, and coal tar constituents. Brodhead Creek sediments also are contaminated with chemicals associated with coal tar. Potential public health risks exist if contaminated groundwater is accidentally ingested and if direct contact is made with contaminants.

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 was addressed in three stages: (1) immediate actions to prevent coal tar seepage into Brodhead Creek; (2) removal of free coal tar from subsurface soils; and (3) residual coal tar contamination and groundwater.

In 1981, EPA took steps to stop the seepage of coal tar into Brodhead Creek by constructing an underground slurry wall to contain the coal tar. The current landowner also pumped out about 8,000 gallons of coal tar out of the ground and collected approximately 150 drums of material. In 1987, Union Gas and the PP&L signed a consent order with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to study the contamination and to develop alternative remedies for cleanup. In 1991, an innovative technology called the Contained Recovery of Oily Waste (CROW) process removed an additional 1,500 gallons of coal tar from the subsurface soils. In 1992, PP&L and Union Gas agreed to perform an investigation of the bedrock aquifer. The results of the study indicated that the bedrock aquifer was clean and that upward groundwater flow gradients existed across the site. Shallow groundwater was not used as a drinking water source and surface waters at the site had not been impacted by site related contamination. It was also determined that complete removal of residual coal tar at the site would be technically unworkable because of several site-specific constraints including a flood control levee and wetlands on site. On June 30, 1995, EPA issued a Record of Decision saying that no further cleanup work was necessary for groundwater and residual coal tar at the site. EPA also waived requirements to clean the groundwater because of the inability to excavate the area.

The preliminary close-out report was issued on September 30, 1997. EPA completed the first five-year review of the Brodhead Creek Site in 1999. On September 22, 2000, institutional controls which limit future land use were implemented by PPL, and recorded at the Monroe County Courthouse Recorder of Deeds Office, in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. These controls include restricting use of groundwater at the site and prohibiting excavation at the site unless prior written approval is provided. On October 26, 2000, EPA issued the final completion report for the Brodhead Creek Site, and EPA deleted the Brodhead Creek Site from the NPL on July 23, 2001. A second five-year review was completed on May 27, 2004. The results of the second five-year review indicate that the cleanup remedies selected for the Brodhead Creek Site continue to be protective of human health and the environment. Ongoing activities include annual monitoring to assess groundwater, stream sediments, and biota to ensure continued protection to human health and the environment.

In August 2007, EPA was notified of a potential coal tar seep in McMichael Creek adjacent to the Site. A subsequent inspection by EPA and PPL confirmed the coal tar seep and an additional seep in a stormwater drainage ditch discharging the Brodhead Creek. PPL undertook immediate action to contain the seeps by installing absorbent booms and pads to contain the seep. PPL also initiated a geophysical survey in November 2007 and additional subsurface exploration activities in May and June 2008 in an effort to identify potential subsurface coal tar deposits that may have migrated or been previously unknown. Targeted removal of residual coal tar impacted soils in the southeastern portion of the Site in August/September 2008. Approximately 275 tons of impacted soil was removed. No additional coal tar seeps have been observed.

The third Five-Year Review was completed for the Brodhead Creek Site on May 22, 2009. The results of the review indicated that the remedy for OU-1 is protective of human health and the environment. The results also indicated that the remedy for OU-2 currently protects human health and the environment in the short-term because there is currently no exposure to shallow ground water at the Site and the institutional controls implemented at the Site will ensure that ground water will not be used in the future. Recommendations made in the Five-Year Review to ensure the remedy for OU-2 is protective in the long-term include further evaluation of Brodhead Creek sediment and biota monitoring to determine if rechannelization of Brodhead and McMichael Creeks has altered the ability for residual coal tar to be released. In addition, McMichael Creek continues to migrate northward into potentially contaminated coal tar areas.

In order to address the potential release of contaminated soils by the migration of McMichael Creek, the responsible parties conducted a removal action that resulted in approximately 1,500 tons of impacted materials that were sent for disposal. This action took place in the month of October 2012 If McMichael Creek continues its migration, north, EPA will consider another removal action in advance of any potential releases.


Site Contacts

Administrative Record Locations

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Superfund |EPA Home | EPA Superfund Homepage

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.