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Eastern Diversified Metals

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Schuylkill County
Rush Township

EPA ID# PAD980830533

17th Congressional District

Last Update: February 2013

Other Names


Current Site Status

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing the environmental cleanup of the Eastern Diversified Metals Site, which is being carried out by a potentially responsible party (PRP).

EPA removed dioxin-contaminated "hot spots" (patches of areas of a site found to contain a certain contaminant at levels that are not prevalent throughout the rest of the site property) and samples have shown that the cleanup standard has been met. On November 26, 2001, EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Site which requires the on-site containment of the fluff pile (waste insulation) under a multi-layer cap, groundwater monitoring, and institutional controls.

Special Notice Letters were issued to potentially responsible parties on June 21, 2002. EPA negotiated a settlement with Nassau Metals for the implementation of the remedy. The settlement is embodied in a Consent Decree which was entered by the U.S. District Court and became final on 10/30/03. EPA approved the final Remedial Design submitted by Nassau on July 28, 2006. Nassau awarded a contract for the construction of the Remedial Design and the contractor mobilized at the Site in September 2006. Construction activities associated with the Remedial Action were completed in July 2008.

The most recent Five-Year Review of the Site was completed by EPA in February 2008. The purpose of the Five-Year Review is to determine if the remedy at the Site is protective of human health and the environment. In February 2008, the remedies were under construction, but have since been completed. As a result, the remedies are protective of human health and the environment. The next Five-Year Review of the Site is currently underway and will be completed in February 2013.

Site Description

The 25-acre Eastern Diversified Metals Site is a former wire recycling facility. From 1966 to 1977, the company disposed of approximately 350 million pounds of waste insulation material, commonly called "fluff", in an open pile. This fluff comes from stripping the coverings from electrical wire. The fluff disposal pile is up to 60 feet high, 250 feet wide, and 1,500 feet long. In 1974, the company installed a wastewater treatment plant, diversion ditches, retention basins, and a trench that diverts shallow groundwater to the treatment plant. Surface impoundments associated with the wastewater treatment plant had overflowed at times into a tributary to the Little Schuylkill River. The Little Schuylkill River is used for trout fishing and other recreational activities.

The Site is underlain by the Mauch Chunk Formation, one of the most important water-bearing formations in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Approximately 1,400 people are served by wells that are within three miles of the site and draw on the Mauch Chunk Formation for their water supply. There are about 1,600 people living within a one-mile radius of the Site. The distance from the Site to the nearest residence is approximately 1,000 feet.

Site Responsibility
Cleanup of this Site is the responsibility of federal and state governments, and parties potentially responsible for site contamination. These potentially responsible parties are also called PRPs.
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 (NPL). This site was proposed to the NPL on June 10, 1986 and formally added to the list on October 4, 1989.

Threats and Contaminants

Lead, phthalate, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxin compounds are the principal contaminants historically associated with the fluff pile. Contaminants found in both leachate from the fluff pile and sediments consist of heavy metals including lead, zinc, copper, and manganese, plus PCBs and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Manganese and low levels of VOCs have been detected in the site-area groundwater, but are not Site-related. Potential health threats include direct contact with, and accidental ingestion of, fluff waste and contaminated groundwater, sediment, and leachate.

Contaminant descriptions and risk factors are available from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, an arm of the CDC.

Cleanup Progress

In response to a 1987 EPA directive, the PRPs built a security fence around the Site. This fence restricted access and reduced the potential for human exposure to the fluff pile and contaminated areas. In 1993, over 6,613 cubic yards of contaminated debris were transported off the site for disposal. In response to a 1994 EPA directive, the Site Treatment Plant (STP) was upgraded so it could remove zinc from the leachate. In 1995, a new leachate collection system was built around the base of the main fluff pile. In 1996, a new storm water collection and treatment system was installed at the site. This new system prevented erosion and kept runoff water from carrying fluff off the site. A biological treatment plant and 20,000 gallon equalization storage tank were later added to the STP, these remove organic contaminants from the leachate. Construction of this new treatment plant started in 1997 and the plant began operating in spring 1998. In the fall of 1998, repairs were made to the leachate collection trench. That same year, additional leachate seep collectors were built just downstream of the STP, on the un-named tributary to the Little Schuylkill River that flows through the Site.

Hot Spot Areas: Based on an investigation conducted by the PRPs in 1991, EPA selected a cleanup method for "hot spot" areas. The cleanup approach involved excavating "hot spots" of fluff that were contaminated with dioxin and PCBs. These materials were taken off-site for incineration. In addition, miscellaneous debris was removed from the Site. In 1993, during the debris removal, EPA discovered additional dioxin contamination in some of the debris piles. This waste was excavated and taken off site for incineration. Additional fluff was excavated from the dioxin hot spot/former burn area on-site in 1997, 1998 and 1999. EPA found contaminated soil underlying the area where the fluff was removed; these contaminated soils were also excavated and sent for off-site incineration. EPA has completed the removal of dioxin contaminated fluff hotspots, and confirmatory samples have shown that the cleanup standard has been met.

Groundwater: EPA selected an interim groundwater approach, requiring further study. Groundwater studies looked at the practicality of, and the need for, cleaning up the deep groundwater. These studies also looked at installing a shallow trench to collect groundwater. This trench was proposed to be placed parallel to the existing trench. Based on the second groundwater study, EPA decided not to address the deep groundwater at the Site. Shallow groundwater is still collected and treated by the STP, which also treats leachate from the fluff pile. This leachate is gathered by the expanded sub-surface collection system.

Remainder of the Site: EPA originally decided in July 1992 to recycle the fluff, however a pilot study of the fluff revealed that it contained PCBs, and therefore recycling was not feasible. On June 17, 1997, the PRP signed an agreement with EPA to carry out a focused feasibility study (FFS) to explore other ways to address the fluff pile. The draft FFS was submitted to EPA in August 1998. This draft FFS evaluated options, including excavating the fluff, treating it on-site and disposing it off-site. In late August 1998 the PRP submitted a second document to EPA that outlined a remedy consisting of the in-place closure – capping -- of the main fluff pile. In response to EPA's technical concerns regarding the feasibility of in-place closure, the PRP conducted studies in the spring and summer of 1999. These studies showed that on-site capping is technically possible.

EPA held a public meeting in the summer of 1999 to explain future plans. Over the years, several elected officials have expressed oposition to on-site closure. A proposed plan which contained on-site closure as the preferred alternative was issued by EPA in October of 2000. A public meeting was held to discuss the viable alternatives contained in the feasibility study. The strong opposition to EPA's on-site containment alternative expressed by the public and elected officials substantially delayed the EPA's final decision. However, EPA believes that on-site containment is the safest and most cost-effective alternative for the EDM Site.

On November 26, 2001, EPA issued a ROD for Operable Unit 4 at the EDM Site which requires the on-site containment of the fluff pile under a multi-layer cap, groundwater monitoring, and institutional controls. Special Notice Letters were issued to the potentially responsible parties on June 21, 2002. EPA and Nassau Metals have entered into a Consent Decree in which Nassau has agreed to implement the remedial design and remedial action for the EDM Site. The Consent Decree was entered by the District Court and became final on 10/30/03. The Remedial Design for the remedy has been approved by EPA. An early remedial action commenced in November 2005 and was completed in December 2005 which involved the excavation and removal of contaminated soils and visible fluff from the property adjacent to the EDM Site which housed the former EDM processing facility. The excavated soils and fluff were consolidated on the main fluff pile awaiting to be capped. A portion of the property on which the main fluff pile sits was designated for possible redevelopment in the November 2001 ROD. The remedial action contractor mobilized at the Site the week of September 18, 2006 for the capping the fluff pile. The construction of the remedial action was completed in July 2008.


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