Watson Johnson Landfill
Current Site Information
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)Pennsylvania
EPA ID# PAD980706824
8th Congressional District
Last Update: January 2015
Current Site StatusThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added this site to the National Priorities List on September 13, 2001. The agency has conducted a comprehensive site study, known as the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study. Data from this investigation was used to determine the nature and extent of the contamination and to develop cleanup plans. The Remedial Investigation Report was finalized in May 2006 and is part of the Administrative Record for the site. A Pilot Study of chemical oxidation of ground water contaminants was conducted with favorable results. A Proposed Plan was issued for the Site for public comment and a Public Meeting was held on September 25, 2008 to discuss EPA's proposal. The Record of Decision for the Site was signed on August 14, 2009. The Remedial Design was initiated in November 2009 and a pre-design investigation was conducted. The Remedial Design was completed in September 2011. EPA Region 3 requested funding to construct the landfill cap and to conduct the groundwater in-situ treatment. The current schedule anticipates starting construction by Spring 2015.
January 2015 Watson Johnson Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 2.59 MB), About PDF)
Site DescriptionThe Watson Johnson Landfill Site is a former landfill on East Pumping Station Road in Richland Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The entire property consists of approximately 56 acres, of which approximately 32 acres were used as a landfill. The portion of the site that was used as a landfill was active from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. The landfill accepted both industrial and municipal wastes.
Site ResponsibilityThis site is being addressed by federal actions.
NPL Listing HistoryOur 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 for the National Priorities List on June 14, 2001 and formally added to the list on September 13, 2001.
Threats and Contaminants
In June 1998, concerned citizens contacted the EPA and requested that the agency do an investigation of the former landfill. EPA conducted field investigations at the site from 1998 through 1999, collecting samples from on-site soils, adjacent wetlands, Tohickon Creek and groundwater monitoring wells. Local residential and Quakertown Borough municipal wells were also sampled. Hazardous substances detected in the soils of the landfill include volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, which are chemical components of solvents, plus polychlorinated biphenols (PCBs), and metals. Tetrachloroethene (PCE; aka perchloroethene) and trichloroethene (TCE), also chemical components of solvents, were detected in an on-site monitoring well and a Quakertown Borough Municipal Well. Elevated metals and PCBs were detected in sediment samples collected from an adjacent wetland and an elevated level of mercury was detected downstream of the site in Tohickon Creek. Residential well sampling results indicated elevated levels of arsenic in some home wells.
In March/April 2002, EPA conducted additional residential well sampling. The results of this sampling indicated elevated levels of TCE in some home wells.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
In July 1999, while clearing brush from an area on the western side of the site to prepare for drilling monitoring wells, a front-end loader unearthed a drum. The drum was accidentally punctured and released approximately two gallons of a viscous and oil like material onto the ground. The drum was overpacked, staged on-site and the contents of the drum were sampled. Sampling results revealed that the material within the drum contained elevated levels of PCE and lead. EPA removed the drum and the surrounding contaminated soil in March 2000. Additionally, drinking water from the Quakertown Borough Municipal Well is currently being treated with an air stripper to remove the TCE contamination.
EPA has conducted an interim action to address the immediate health concerns posed by TCE contamination in several home wells. This action included an extension of a public water main to service up to thirty-five residential wells affected and/or threatened by TCE contaminated groundwater at levels of public health concern. The waterline extension was completed in March 2006.
The Remedial Investigation Report was finalized in May 2006 and is part of the Administrative Record for the site. A Pilot Study of chemical oxidation of groundwater contaminants was conducted. The results of the Remedial Investigation and the Pilot Study were used to develop the Feasibility Study, which outlines viable cleanup technologies for the site. A Proposed Plan was issued for the Site for public comment and a Public Meeting was held on September 25, 2008 to discuss EPA's proposal. The Record of Decision for the Site was signed on August 14, 2009. The Record of Decision selected a multi-layer cover system for the landfill area and in-situ chemical oxidation with enhanced bioremediation for the groundwater as the cleanup remedy. The remedial Design for the Site cleanup remedy began in November 2009 and a pre-design investigation was conducted. The Remedial Design was completed in September 2011. The current schedule anticipates starting construction by the end of 2014. EPA continues to monitor the groundwater while awaiting funding for construction of the cleanup remedy.