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Brown's Battery Breaking

EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic)

Berks County
Tilden Township
near the town of Shoemakersville

EPA ID# PAD980831812

17th Congressional District

Last Update: January 2015

Other Names


Current Site Status

Site Description

The Brown's Battery Breaking site, in Shoemakersville, Berks County, Pennsylvania, is a 14-acre abandoned battery recycling facility that was operated from 1961 to 1971. Three families were living on the site when the state discovered elevated levels of lead in children living in these residences. EPA then studied the site and found soil and surface water contamination. There is a fence around the perimeter of the site to restrict public access. The site is bordered by Conrail tracks to the west, the Schuylkill River to the southeast, and Mill Creek to the southwest. It lies within the flood plain of the Schuylkill River. Approximately 220 people live within one-mile of the site. There are 1,000 people within three miles of the site who depend on groundwater for drinking water supplies. Two private residential wells are located on site. The adjacent Schuylkill River is used as a potable water source, as well as for recreation.
Site Responsibility
Cleanup of this site is once again being conducted and payed for by the party responsible for site contamination, under oversight by the EPA. EPA performed a portion of the soil cleanup after Exide declared bankruptcy.
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 October 15, 1984 and formally added to the list on June 10, 1986.

Threats and Contaminants

The groundwater is contaminated with lead and related metals from former site operations. People who ingest contaminated groundwater may be at risk. All contaminated soil and batttery casings at the site have been remediated.

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

Cleanup Progress

In 1983, EPA temporarily relocated the three families living at the site. Contaminated soil and battery casings were moved to a containment area and were covered with a low permeability cap. Also, the primary disposal area was fenced. In 1990, EPA decided to permanently relocate three residences and a business, and Exide Corp. began the process under EPA's monitoring. In early 1993, EPA completed relocations of all residents and one business. The remaining business left the site when the cleanup commenced.

In late 1991, EPA completed a study of the soil, debris, and groundwater contamination, and identified cleanup methods that could be used at the site. EPA selected a method in mid-1992, calling for treatment of all soils containing lead levels above 1,000 ppm, using an innovative thermal treatment technology, similar to incineration. If the innovative technology was not feasible, a contingent method, on-site stabilization with off-site disposal, was also selected. On March 31, 1998, EPA determined that the innovative technology was not feasible and the contingent method would be used instead. Exide began the soil cleanup in June 2000 continuing until they declared bankruptcy in April 2002. EPA completed the cleanup of contaminated soil and battery casings in the summer of 2003 and Exide completed the grading and re-vegetation of the site in October 2003. Exide is treating contaminated groundwater by injecting sodium bicarbonate to elevate the pH and reduce the solubility of metals. Injections continues in 2005, 2006, and 2009. A Third Five-Year-Review recommended increase of in-situ injections effectiveness, modification of a sampling plan, and modification of institutional controls. A new, modified, injection pattern started in 2008. Currently, a radius of a plume has been only approximately 100 feet.

EPA completed the fourth Five Year Review for the Brown's Battery Site on September 24, 2012. The findings of the Five Year Review report indicate that the remedy remains protective of human health and the environment in the short-term. Long-term protectiveness is expected to be achieved through continued operation of the in-situ chemical treatment of ground water and proper compliance with institutional controls enacted for the Site. Sampling and monitoring of ground water will continue until cleanup goals are met.


Site Contacts

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