Current Site Information
EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)Pennsylvania
South Branch of Bear Creek
EPA ID# PAD980712855
3rd Congressional District
Last Update: January 2015
No updates anticipated until next 5-yr. review
AH-RS Coal Corporation
Current Site Status
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed all cleanup activities at this site in mid-1991. Following the first five-year review of the site in 1993, EPA determined that the remedy remained protective of public health and the environment. The site was deleted from the National Priorities List (NPL) in September 1997. The second Five-Year Review was performed on November 19, 1998. The third Five-Year Review was completed in July 2004.The fourth Five-Year Review was completed in August 2009. The finding of the fourth Five-Year Review were confirmed that the implemented remedy is protective of human health and environment, and recommended reducing the frequency of the Post Closure sampling from quarterly to annually. EPA and the state agreed to this reduction. EPA completed the fifth Five-Year Review in September 2014. The review determined that the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment.
The Bruin Lagoon site occupies six fenced acres along the western bank of the South Branch of Bear Creek in Bruin Borough, Butler County, Pennsylvania. Route 268 runs along the western side of the site. The site is partially situated in the 100 year flood plain of the South Branch of Bear Creek. Operation at the site began in the 1930's when the Bruin Oil Company, located on adjacent property to the south, used the lagoon for disposal of wastes resulting from the production of white oil (mineral oil). Disposal operations continued for over 40 years. Material deposited in the lagoon included bottom residues from crude oil storage tanks and spent refining agents containing highly acidic sludge. In 1983, the Bruin Lagoon site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL), EPA's roster of the worst hazardous waste sites. The Site was deleted from the NPL on September 8, 1997.
Site ResponsibilityCleanup of this site was completed in July 1991.
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 to the list on December 30, 1982 and formally added to the list on September 8, 1983. The site was deleted from the list on September 18, 1997.
Threats and Contaminants
The ground water and surface water contain sulfuric acid, heavy metals, and hydrogen sulfide. The soil on an adjacent private property was contaminated with hydrogen sulfide and sulfuric acid in a 1980 flood. Direct contact with or accidental ingestion of contaminated soil, surface water, or drinking water posed a potential health risk. The first evidence of site contamination occurred when a large fish kill in the Allegheny River was reported in 1968. The site is located within a 100-year flood plain and is subject to periodic flooding that could spread contaminants from the site to nearby surface waters.
Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.
After remedial investigation, EPA contractors began the cleanup of the site during August 1983. In May 1984, during the site cleanup activities, an unidentified crust layer was penetrated resulting in a major release of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfuric acid mist. EPA suspended all the cleanup activities and mobilized emergency personnel to stabilize the site . EPA than conducted a second remedial investigation and initiated a second cleanup effort in March 1989. Because of the past chemical release, EPA remained vigilant in combating all unexpected challenges and ensuring the safety of the surrounding community and the environment during the second cleanup activity. Superfund personnel treated approximately 80,000 cubic yards of contaminated waste despite the presence of acids and periodic release of highly toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide. Despite all of the complex issues surrounding this site, EPA effectively completed the cleanup and ensured the safety of the residents throughout the process. The cleanup was completed in July 1991. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took over the responsibility of Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of the site. In March 1993, EPA finished the first five-year review of the site and determined that the cleanup continues to be protective of public health and the environment. The site was deleted from the NPL in September 1997. The fourth and fifth Five-Year Reviews were completed in August 2009 and September 2014, respectively. Both reviews found that the implemented remedy remains protective of human health and the environment.